US border vaccine rules remain as Biden ends COVID national emergency

Thousands of unvaccinated Canadian truckers still barred from US until at least May 11

President Joe Biden signed legislation Monday to immediately end the U.S. national emergency response for COVID-19, weeks before it was set to expire alongside a separate public health emergency.

However, the public health emergency — which does not allow unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens to enter the country — remains in place until May 11. 

It’s unclear if the border vaccine requirements for non-U.S. citizens will end in May. The bill Biden signed Monday did not mention ending the vaccine mandate for non-U.S. citizens at the border, and White House officials have not commented on when the requirements will be lifted.

The U.S. border vaccine mandate for foreign drivers began in January 2022.

Over the past several months, trucking associations in the U.S. and Canada have been calling on the Biden administration to end the requirements.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said the mandate has barred thousands of unvaccinated truck drivers in Canada from entering the U.S. 

Canada ended its border vaccine requirement Oct. 3, and the CTA was hopeful the U.S. would immediately follow suit.

“We are optimistic that the removal of these emergency measures means the border vaccine mandate will also be removed very soon, but we have not received any confirmation regarding timelines,” Lak Shoan, director of CTA’s policy and industry awareness programs, told FreightWaves.

CTA said it has been working with officials on both sides of the border and “remains optimistic that the border vaccine mandate will also be removed in the coming weeks.”

“CTA continues to actively engage with U.S. officials and diplomats on the removal of the vaccine mandate,” CTA said in a news release Tuesday. “Other industry representatives, including the American Trucking Associations, tourism advocates, governors and northern mayors have also been vocal about the removal of the mandate and the need to unify border requirements to the benefit of our sector and cross-border economy.”

The vaccine mandate has had mixed effects on U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking, with some operators saying it has affected the available number of drivers.

Some truck drivers at both the Canadian and Mexican borders have also said they have never been asked by U.S. officials to show proof of vaccination status.

The national emergency Biden ended on Monday had allowed the U.S. government to take steps to respond to COVID-19 and support the country’s economic, health and welfare systems. Some emergency measures have already ended, while others are still being phased out.