Hidalgo County sees increase in international shoppers following non-essential travel ban lift


This weekend was the first official weekend that nonessential, vaccinated travelers from Mexico could cross into the county since March 2020.

On Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they expected a significant increase in people crossing into the country through the Valley’s land ports of entry once the weekend arrived, and the prediction became a reality.

RELATED: Valley ports of entry reopen for non-essential travel

Some Valley business owners say they felt the impact of the border being closed to nonessential travel for the past 20 months. However, some business owners say the reopening couldn’t come at a better time. 

“I’ve seen a huge increase in sales,” Owner of Francia Fragancias in McAllen, Mayela Robles, said. “The Mexican nationals are very excited about being able to cross once again and shop on this side of the border. I’ve already seen a 40% jump in revenue. They’re coming over and spending $600 — a thousand dollars at a time.”

RELATED: U.S. reopens land borders with Mexico to vaccinated travelers

Business owners like robles remain optimistic that this week is a sign that brighter days are ahead for cross-border commerce.





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What you need to cross US-Mexico border for nonessential travel


Starting Monday the border will reopen to nonessential travel for the first time since March 2020.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Starting Monday the border between the United States and Mexico will reopen to non-essential travel. The border has been closed since March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Here are some of the things you may want to know if you plan to cross the border into San Diego starting Monday: 

Are COVID vaccinations required to cross the US-Mexico Border for non-essential travel?

Yes. Whether crossing at a land port of entry or by ferry terminal, travelers are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when crossing the border for non-essential travel. That applies if they are 18 or over. 

If someone under the age of 18 wants to cross the border without being vaccinated, they can do so with a vaccinated adult. 

These requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents (including those with commuter status), foreign-born individuals aged 17 or under, or foreign-born travelers engaged in activities deemed essential (including H1b and H2b visa holders).

Do I need my vaccine card when crossing the border?

Customs and Border Patrol officers will accept verifiable paper or digital proof of vaccination. The CDC website outlines verifiable forms of proof of vaccination here

Which vaccines are being accepted at the border? 

According to the CDC, for purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA-approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.

COVID-19 vaccines currently approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson [J&J]/Janssen

COVID-19 vaccines that have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization include: AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sinopharm, Sinovac and five others as of Nov. 3, 2021.

Besides my proof of vaccination, what should I expect when crossing the border?

In addition to checking proof of vaccination, officers will ask travelers to verbally attest to their reason for travel and their COVID-19 vaccination status during inspection.

“The first step is the verbal attestation, but at any point where the officer may request it, they should have a vaccination card available to present,” said Matthew Davies, Executive Director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Not all travelers will be asked to show proof of vaccination. CBP officials said it will be done at random so travelers should be ready but not everyone will be stopped.

“Any non-citizen attempting to enter the United States through illegal means or without appropriate documentation may be subject to expulsion or removal,” according to the Department of Homeland Security website.

Do I need to be vaccinated if I am crossing the border for essential travel?

Those crossing the border for essential travel will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the current time. However, starting in January all inbound travelers will be required to show proof of vaccination.

Other reminders when crossing the border: 

  • “Travelers are being reminded to bring a Western Hemisphere travel initiative document such as a valid US passport, a trusted traveler program card or an enhanced driver’s license when re-entering the country,” an officer at San Ysidro Port of Entry said. 
  • San Diego’s port of entries are expecting heavy travel and high wait times next week and continuing into the holiday season. Officers are asking non-essential travelers to cross at times other than peak hours.
  • To help reduce wait times and long lines, travelers can use the CBP OneTM app to process their I-94 permit and access other services and are highly encouraged to avoid rush hour traffic (4 – 9 a.m.).  
  • Non-U.S. citizens need a valid passport or visa when crossing into the U.S. 

More information can be found on the DHS fact sheet here

WATCH RELATED: CBP provides update on US-Mexico border reopening plans  – Nov. 2, 2021





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Border agency gives update on reopening land border ports to nonessential travel


SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection will give an update Friday on the plans to reopen the border to nonessential travel.

The media briefing will be held at 10:30 am. Friday at the Juarez- Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. Leaders will discuss reopening the land border ports to nonessential travel by fully vaccinated Canada, Mexico residents.

The press conference will be streamed within this article. Delays are possible.



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Traffic Expected to Increase as Non-Essential Land Border Travel Resumes Monday – NBC 7 San Diego


Traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, border crossings and ferry terminals will likely increase beginning next week.

Officials with the Port of Entry announced their expectations of increased traffic and wait times for Nov. 8 when the U.S.-Mexico border is expected to reopen to fully vaccinated non-essential travelers.

More travelers mean more vehicles and more documents for Customs and Border Protection officers to check.

Moises Castillo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer in charge of the San Ysidro Port of Entry, said staffing will be ramped up.

“We are reassigning officers from different areas and putting them in our primary and secondary areas to speed up the process. We are expecting heavy travel on that day. Actually, for the next few weeks,” Castillo said.

Castillo told NBC 7 that staffing is near levels prior to the pandemic.

For those who rely on the border, the announcement is welcomed news. Others may dread the possibility that those long waits will suddenly get much longer.

Currently, wait times hover around an hour to an hour and a half, according to Castillo.

Castillo is asking the public to be patient with CBP officers and to prepare using the CBP One mobile app to fill out necessary paperwork prior to arriving at the border crossing.

As the current process, officers will randomly choose travelers to show proof of vaccination. All are required to have it when they cross the border.

A CBP spokesperson told NBC 7 that a picture on a mobile device, of your vaccine proof, is accepted. Also, officers are trained to recognize fraudulent vaccine documents.

As for the federal vaccine mandate among CBP officers, it’s unclear if it will have any effect on staffing at the border.

In January 2022, essential travelers will also be required to be vaccinated.



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Germany Now Allows Non-Essential Travel From Argentina, Colombia, Namibia & Peru


Following the recommendation of the European Union Council to lift the entry ban for Argentina, Colombia, Namibia, and Peru, the German authorities have announced that these countries are now part of its list of epidemiologically safe third countries.

This means that travellers from Argentina, Colombia, Namibia, and Peru can now enter Germany for non-essential purposes without being subject to restrictions. Nonetheless, they still need to follow certain requirements, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to an update that has been made by the German Federal Ministry of Interior, Building, and Home Affairs, travellers from the third countries mentioned above are permitted restriction-free entry to Germany as long as they present valid proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 disease.

In order for a vaccination certificate to be considered valid, travellers should prove that they have completed the vaccination process with one of the vaccines recognised in Germany.

In addition, the document should also indicate that at least 14 days have passed since the holder received the second dose of the vaccine.

“The prerequisite is that the person entering the country has received the last necessary vaccination dose required for a full vaccination dose (in the case of a recovered person: one vaccine dose administered), that at least 14 days have passed since the last required individual vaccination,” the Ministry explained.

>> Germany Permits Entry for Travellers Jabbed With 5 COVID-19 Vaccines, Including Covishield

The requirement to be fully vacated in order to be able to enter Germany applies only to those over the age of 12.

“Due to the special vaccination situation of young people, people under the age of 12, even if they have not yet been vaccinated, are allowed to travel with at least one fully vaccinated parent,” the Ministry emphasised.

Travellers from Argentina, Colombia, Namibia, and Peru who have recovered from the disease can also enter Germany for non-essential purposes. However, in order to be released from additional entry restrictions, they should prove that they have taken one vaccine dose.

Regarding unvaccinated travellers, the German authorities have noted that they can still travel from these countries provided that they follow the testing rules and the purpose of their entry falls into the exemption list.

Apart from these areas, Germany permits restriction-free entry to several other third countries. Germany’s list of epidemiologically safe third countries includes Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Hong Kong, Jordan, Canada, Qatar, Kuwait, Macau, New Zealand, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, and China, which is currently subject to reciprocity.

Previously, the German authorities announced that since October 31, travellers from Slovakia are subject to stricter entry rules. On the other hand, the same has relaxed the rules for those reaching Germany from Israel and the Palestinian territories.



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What the border reopening for nonessential travel Nov. 8 means for South Bay businesses


More than 200 businesses in the San Ysidro area have closed since the start of the pandemic

SAN DIEGO — Starting on Nov. 8, fully vaccinated people can cross the Mexico and Canada borders into the United States for nonessential travel. This loosening of restrictions comes just in time for the holiday shopping season.

“I really hope it picks up business,” said Melanie Alvarado. “It’s a family-owned restaurant.”

Melanie Alvadro and her husband own Fish Mart Pescaderia & Algo Mas in San Ysidro. On Monday, she said she hopes these upcoming relaxed restrictions at the border mean more customers.

”It’s still not back to normal,” said Alvarado. “So we’re hoping in the next few months hopefully we’ll get back to normal, but it’s been challenging so far.”

But, Alvarado said she is still bracing for challenges. She said many of her employees cross the border from Baja California into the U.S. to come to work, and she worries an influx of travelers could mean more traffic at the already backed-up border.

“They do arrive late all the time. So now that I think everybody’s going to be crossing the border, it’s going to be even more challenging for people to come to work,” said Alvarado.

Earlier this month, the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce reported $1.25 billion in lost sales, all attributed to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Even closer to the border is Achiote Family Restaurant. Assistant Manager Sofi Arellanes said more than half of its customers come from south of the border. 

”People visit us by plane, by car,” she said. “They usually come to visit us.”

She’s also concerned about traffic, but overall thinks it’s another step toward normalcy.

”Most of the time, it’s going to be good, because they’re going to start their lives again,” said Arellanes. “With the pandemic and the other restrictions that maybe they had, I think it’s going to be good.”

According to SANDAG, tourism was one of the most hard-hit industries within the first year of the pandemic. Travelers will be asked to provide proof of vaccination when crossing into the United States for nonessential travel.

WATCH RELATED: Supervisor Vargas writes letter in hopes to help border businesses impacted by shutdown 



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New details from DHS about vaccine requirements for non-essential border travel


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) Come November 8, 2021 non-citizens can cross the land ports of entry and ferry terminals for non-essential travel but must show proof of vaccination.

The Department of Homeland Security says an FDA-approved and authorized COVID-19 vaccines and all vaccines that have an Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization will be accepted.

Travelers must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and verbally attest to vaccination and non-essential travel.

Non-citizen crossing for essential purposes will not have to show proof of vaccination until January 2022.

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.



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‘Long overdue’: Industry welcomes Canada’s lifting of global advisory against non-essential travel


Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, October 22, 2021 2:39PM EDT

CALGARY – The travel industry is welcoming what it calls the federal government’s “long overdue” move to lift a global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country.

“You cannot believe how welcome this move is for us,” said Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Canadian based international tour operator G Adventures. “It’s very late, as far as I’m concerned, given what’s going in the rest of the world. But very welcome, that’s for sure.”

The global travel advisory was put in place in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world.

The government of Canada’s website now shows that advisory is no longer in place, though it continues to list individual advisories for destination countries, as it did prior to the pandemic.

It also urges Canadians to ensure they are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus before travelling abroad, and to stay informed of the COVID-19 situation at their destination.

Canada has been slower than many other countries to remove its blanket advisory against international travel, and that’s been frustrating for the Canadian travel industry, Poon Tip said. He said his own company has been forced to lay off 1,000 people – more than half of its workforce worldwide – due to the collapse in travel demand.

“It’s been a tough time, making those kinds of decisions. The toughest decisions I’ve had to make in 30 years,” he said.

However, Poon Tip said he’s noticed a significant uptick in travel demand from Canadians in the last couple of months, something he attributes to the growing confidence in the wake of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We’ve hired 30 people in the last couple of months just to answer inquiries, and we’re continually hiring again, which is a great feeling,” he said.

At The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary, founder and chief executive Lesley Keyter said she’s also noticed a dramatic increase in inquiries and bookings in the last two months. But she said the removal of the federal government’s blanket travel advisory will add an extra layer of comfort for some people.

“I’m sure this will persuade people who were on the fence. They’ll feel a bit safer about doing that,” Keyter said.

The removal of the global travel advisory should also make it easier for Canadians to purchase travel insurance, depending on their destination and its COVID-19 risk profile, Keyter added.

However, the federal government continues to advise against travel on cruise ships, something Keyter said will continue to negatively affect Canada’s travel agency industry.

“I’m desperately disappointed that they’re taking away the blanket ban, but they’re still keeping this Level 4 advisory for the cruises,” Keyter said.

“Honestly, having been on two cruises in the last couple of months, I felt safer on the cruise than I did on my overnight hotel in Toronto.”

Canada opened its borders last month to non-essential international travellers who have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine, and to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States in August.

The U.S. government recently announced that its land borders will reopen to non-essential Canadian travellers on Nov. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 22, 2021.





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‘Long overdue’: Tourism industry welcomes lifting of non-essential travel advisory – National


The travel industry is welcoming what it calls the federal government’s “long overdue” move to lift a global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country.

“You cannot believe how welcome this move is for us,” said Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Canadian-based international tour operator G Adventures. “It’s very late, as far as I’m concerned, given what’s going in the rest of the world. But very welcome, that’s for sure.”

The global travel advisory was put in place in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world.

Read more:
Canada lifts blanket advisory against non-essential travel introduced amid COVID-19

The government of Canada’s website now shows that advisory is no longer in place, though it continues to list individual advisories for destination countries, as it did prior to the pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

It also urges Canadians to ensure they are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus before travelling abroad, and to stay informed of the COVID-19 situation at their destination.

Canada has been slower than many other countries to remove its blanket advisory against international travel, and that’s been frustrating for the Canadian travel industry, Poon Tip said. He said his own company has been forced to lay off 1,000 people — more than half of its workforce worldwide — due to the collapse in travel demand.

“It’s been a tough time, making those kinds of decisions. The toughest decisions I’ve had to make in 30 years,” he said.


Click to play video: 'Reality check on feds’ plan for standardized vaccine passports'







Reality check on feds’ plan for standardized vaccine passports


Reality check on feds’ plan for standardized vaccine passports

However, Poon Tip said he’s noticed a significant uptick in travel demand from Canadians in the last couple of months, something he attributes to the growing confidence in the wake of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’ve hired 30 people in the last couple of months just to answer inquiries, and we’re continually hiring again, which is a great feeling,” he said.

At The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary, founder and chief executive Lesley Keyter said she’s also noticed a dramatic increase in inquiries and bookings in the last two months. But she said the removal of the federal government’s blanket travel advisory will add an extra layer of comfort for some people.

“I’m sure this will persuade people who were on the fence. They’ll feel a bit safer about doing that,” Keyter said.

Read more:
PCR travel tests remain because Canada’s not ‘out of the woods yet,’ Tam says

The removal of the global travel advisory should also make it easier for Canadians to purchase travel insurance, depending on their destination and its COVID-19 risk profile, Keyter added.

However, the federal government continues to advise against travel on cruise ships, something Keyter said will continue to negatively affect Canada’s travel agency industry.

“I’m desperately disappointed that they’re taking away the blanket ban, but they’re still keeping this Level 4 advisory for the cruises,” Keyter said.

“Honestly, having been on two cruises in the last couple of months, I felt safer on the cruise than I did on my overnight hotel in Toronto.”

Story continues below advertisement


Click to play video: 'How to deal with international travel barriers'







How to deal with international travel barriers


How to deal with international travel barriers

Canada opened its borders last month to non-essential international travellers who have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine, and to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States in August.

The U.S. government recently announced that its land borders will reopen to non-essential Canadian travellers on Nov. 8.





© 2021 The Canadian Press





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Industry welcomes Canada’s lifting of global advisory against non-essential travel


CALGARY — The travel industry is welcoming what it calls the federal government’s “long overdue” move to lift a global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country.

“You cannot believe how welcome this move is for us,” said Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Canadian based international tour operator G Adventures. “It’s very late, as far as I’m concerned, given what’s going in the rest of the world. But very welcome, that’s for sure.”

The global travel advisory was put in place in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world.

The government of Canada’s website now shows that advisory is no longer in place, though it continues to list individual advisories for destination countries, as it did prior to the pandemic.

It also urges Canadians to ensure they are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus before travelling abroad, and to stay informed of the COVID-19 situation at their destination.

Canada has been slower than many other countries to remove its blanket advisory against international travel, and that’s been frustrating for the Canadian travel industry, Poon Tip said. He said his own company has been forced to lay off 1,000 people — more than half of its workforce worldwide — due to the collapse in travel demand.

“It’s been a tough time, making those kinds of decisions. The toughest decisions I’ve had to make in 30 years,” he said.

However, Poon Tip said he’s noticed a significant uptick in travel demand from Canadians in the last couple of months, something he attributes to the growing confidence in the wake of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We’ve hired 30 people in the last couple of months just to answer inquiries, and we’re continually hiring again, which is a great feeling,” he said.

At The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary, founder and chief executive Lesley Keyter said she’s also noticed a dramatic increase in inquiries and bookings in the last two months. But she said the removal of the federal government’s blanket travel advisory will add an extra layer of comfort for some people.

“I’m sure this will persuade people who were on the fence. They’ll feel a bit safer about doing that,” Keyter said.

The removal of the global travel advisory should also make it easier for Canadians to purchase travel insurance, depending on their destination and its COVID-19 risk profile, Keyter added.

However, the federal government continues to advise against travel on cruise ships, something Keyter said will continue to negatively affect Canada’s travel agency industry.

“I’m desperately disappointed that they’re taking away the blanket ban, but they’re still keeping this Level 4 advisory for the cruises,” Keyter said.

“Honestly, having been on two cruises in the last couple of months, I felt safer on the cruise than I did on my overnight hotel in Toronto.”

Canada opened its borders last month to non-essential international travellers who have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine, and to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States in August.

The U.S. government recently announced that its land borders will reopen to non-essential Canadian travellers on Nov. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 22, 2021.

© Copyright Times Colonist





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