WASHINGTON: The US on Wednesday extended border closures with Canada and Mexico through Aug 21 in an effort to slow the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus as each state in the country sees mounting cases.
The Department of Homeland Security noted the effort to curb the spread in announcing the extension on banning non-essential travel between the North American neighbors but said essential trade and travel will continue, according to report by Anadolu Agency.
“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably,” the department said on Twitter.
The decision to extend the border closures comes just two days after Canada announced that it would allow vaccinated Americans to cross its border beginning Aug 9. Fully vaccinated people from elsewhere are to be allowed in beginning Sept. 7.
When asked about the US decision, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it was based on the “guidance of our health and medical experts, not on the actions of other countries.”
Canada, the US and Mexico have been issuing one-month extensions of their border closures to non-essential travel since March 2020 as the pandemic took hold in the US.
The US has been seeing an alarming spike in coronavirus infections since late June, with the Delta variant now accounting for roughly 83 per cent of new infections, according to American health officials.
The uptick has been recorded in every state, but not equally so, with pockets of unvaccinated communities being especially hard-hit.