The United States will announce Wednesday that it will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated travelers beginning next month.
The borders have been shut down at all automobile, train and ferry crossings since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the exception of essential travel such as trade.
The lifting of restrictions for non-essential travelers at the land borders comes just weeks after the administration of President Joe Biden announced it would allow fully vaccinated foreign citizens to fly into the country beginning next month. An exact date for either of the new rules to take effect has not been set.
Administration officials speaking anonymously to reporters said that people seeking to enter the United States illegally would continue to be subject to the so-called Title 42 order put in place by former President Donald Trump that immigration advocates say bans migrants from crossing the border before they can apply for asylum.
The Biden administration has been under pressure from U.S. lawmakers, as well as Canada and Mexico, to lift the restrictions, which they say has cut off families and deprived the United States of billions of dollars of tourism dollars.
In a related matter, the Indonesian resort island of Bali is preparing to welcome international travelers from several countries back to its renowned beaches on Thursday after being closed for more than a year due to the pandemic. Visitors from China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates will have to show proof of being fully vaccinated, undergo testing upon arrival and quarantine in their hotel rooms for at least five days.
A story in Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times says the World Health Organization will form a new team of experts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic that has sickened more than 238 million people around the globe, including 4.8 million deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center [[ https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/ ]].
The Times says the new advisory team, known as the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, will include specialists in fields like laboratory safety and biosecurity, a nod towards speculation among Western governments pressing for consideration of whether the virus emerged from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where it was first detected in late 2019.
A team of investigators dispatched to Wuhan earlier this year concluded the outbreak likely began as an animal-to-human transmission, but the report was criticized by many as incomplete, mainly due to the Chinese government’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation. In July, a senior Chinese health official rebuffed WHO’s future plan to study the origins of COVID-19.
The U.S. intelligence community was ordered by President Biden to come up with its own determination of the origins of the pandemic, but reportedly told the president it could not reach a definitive conclusion.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.