WASHINGTON – On October 12, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that, following guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will amend Title 19 regulations to allow non-essential travelers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation to enter the United States via land and ferry ports of entry (POEs) across the U.S. border.

The amendments to Title 19 will occur in two phases. First, beginning November 9 fully vaccinated travelers with proof of vaccination from Mexico or Canada can enter the U.S. at POEs for non-essential reasons. Secondly, in early January 2022, inbound foreign travelers must provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19.

According to the DHS press release, “In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

The DHS believes this new travel system will create consistent, stringent protocols for all foreign nationals traveling to the United States- whether by air, land, or ferry – and accounts for the wide availability of COVID-19 Vaccinations.

Many businesses in Northern Washington have relied on cross-border shopping to keep their businesses open. But since the border closed to non-essential travel, those businesses have been suffering greatly. Locally, The Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip are a popular stop for Canadian shoppers. After speaking with multiple employees of various stores, they are anticipating an uptick in customers.

However, it’s unknown if Canadian shoppers will be willing to abide by the new border rules and regulations and come down to Whatcom County and places like the premium outlets to shop.

According to the CDC as of October 14, 2021, 56.7% of the US population has been fully vaccinated, while 65.6% of Americans have had at least one dose. As of October 11,  77.6% of the Washington State population ages 12 and up have received at least one dose, and 71.4% are fully vaccinated.

Locally, Snohomish County has over 494,939 citizens fully vaccinated according to the Snohomish County Health District. Additionally, Snohomish County ranks in the 8th most vaccinated county in the state.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland of Canada said Canadians will need a valid PCR test to return to Canada. “I really believe that when it comes to finishing the fight against COVID, the Canadian approach – which has been to follow science, to follow the recommendations of public health authorities, and to err on the side of caution – has served us really, really well,” said Deputy Prime Minister Freeland.

Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell said the decision “will provide great relief to those waiting to see friends and loved ones from Canada.”