Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The United States will keep its land border with Canada and Mexico mainly closed for at least one more month due to COVID-19 restrictions, a senior Biden administration official announced Monday,
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters in a conference call that the land borders, first closed in March 2020, will remain shuttered for all but essential travel through Oct. 21, The Buffalo News and The Detroit News reported.
Under the rules implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and its counterparts in Canada and Mexico and renewed monthly, non-U.S. residents in those countries are barred from crossing into the United States via land for nonessential travel.
Canada, however, has allowed fully vaccinated U.S. residents to cross into its territory since Aug. 9, as long as a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry can be provided.
The move to extend the land border closures came on the same day the White House announced that air travel restrictions for all vaccinated foreign nationals will be relaxed beginning in early November.
"The administration is announcing a move to a safer and more harmonized global approach to international inbound air travel, and our focus will be, as we talked about, an implementation by early November," Zients told reporters. "We do not have any updates to the land border policies at this point."
He offered no further details on the decision.
The move to maintain the ban was not a popular one with local officials representing northern states and congressional districts bordering Canada, many of whom depend on revenues generated by tourism.
Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., chairman of the House northern border caucus, called the move "completely unnecessary and unexplained."
"It is welcome news that the White House is making progress on reciprocating international public health measures to protect air travelers," he said in a statement. "Yet it is inexplicable that no announcement on easing travel restrictions at land ports of entry is being made today since the livelihoods of communities across the northern border depend on cross-border commerce."