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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

17 hours ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.