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Pigeon River border crossing set to open next month

Pigeon River border crossing station. WTIP file photo by Joe Friedrichs
Pigeon River border crossing station. WTIP file photo by Joe Friedrichs

The U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a report from the Associated Press. 
 
This includes the Pigeon River crossing in Cook County. The remote border crossing is a common entry point into the U.S. for residents of northwestern Ontario, including Thunder Bay.  The Grand Portage Lodge and Casino is among the locations cited by Thunder Bay residents as destinations they frequent here in northeastern Minnesota.

As previously reported by WTIP, the Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) program continues to be suspended. All previously issued RABC permits have expired and U.S. citizens cannot apply for a new permit at this time.
 
Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. The new rules, to be announced Wednesday, will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel starting in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions is set to kick in for air travel into the country. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., like truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.
 
Senior administration officials previewed the new policy late Tuesday on the condition of anonymity to speak ahead of the formal announcement.
 
Both Mexico and Canada have pressed the U.S. for months to ease restrictions on travel that have separated families and curtailed leisure trips since the onset of the pandemic. The latest move follows last month’s announcement that the U.S. will end country-based travel bans for air travel, and instead require vaccination for foreign nationals seeking to enter by plane.

Unlike air travel, for which proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required before boarding a flight to enter the U.S., no testing will be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, provided the travelers meet the vaccination requirement.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.
 
Officials said the CDC was still working to formalize procedures for admitting those who received doses of two different vaccines, as was fairly common in Canada.
 
The delay in the vaccination requirement for essential cross-border travel is meant to provide truck drivers and others with additional time to get a shot and minimize potential economic disruption from the vaccination mandate, officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.