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Photo: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration will open up U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel starting in November — but only to those fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: Government officials and business leaders have decried the economic impact pandemic travel restrictions have had on border communities. They have called for the U.S. to reopen the borders given high, and rising, vaccinations rates there.

What's happening: Officials will implement land border vaccine requirements in two phases, an administration official told reporters on a Tuesday evening call.

  • Early next month, non-essential travelers from Mexico and Canada who provide proof of full vaccination will be allowed into the U.S. at land ports of entry. Unvaccinated people will not be allowed into the U.S. for non-essential reasons like tourism and visiting friends and family.
  • Air travel restrictions will also be lifted in early November, as was announced last month.
  • In early January, everyone crossing U.S. land borders will be required to be fully vaccinated — whether coming for essential or non-essential reasons.

What they're saying: "This is long overdue," Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told Axios Tuesday. She added that the delay in the U.S. decision to fully reopen the border has had devastating impacts.

  • "I'm really concerned that some of these businesses will never reopen and I think border communities, suffered disproportionately," Escobar said.
  • How the protocols are implemented will be critical, Escobar said. "I want to make sure it doesn't create bottlenecks at our ports," she added.

What to watch: Despite easing some coronavirus-related travel restrictions, the Biden administration continues to use a Trump-era policy tied to the pandemic that has allowed to quickly turn back hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers to Mexico.

  • Escobar said she believes Title 42 "should have been lifted a long time ago. I don't think Title 42 protects the health, safety and welfare of migrants or agents," she said.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker