A row of businesses in downtown El Paso on Oct. 30, 2020. Many businesses in cities on the Texas-Mexico border heavily depend on shoppers from Mexico, who have not been allowed to cross the international bridges since March 2020. Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

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The Biden administration will reopen the country’s land borders with Mexico and Canada in November to travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19, lifting the pandemic restrictions for non-essential travel after 19 months.

The travel restrictions began in March 2020 and cut off people who wanted to shop or visit family in the U.S., which hurt businesses in border cities that depend on Mexican shoppers.

The federal government’s announcement late Tuesday also said that starting in January, people traveling for essential purposes — such as students, commercial drivers, U.S. citizens and health care workers — will have to start showing proof of vaccination as well. Currently, that essential travel is allowed without such proof.

“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”

The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is the only member-supported, digital-first, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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