The U.S. will close its borders to unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Canadian and Mexican truck drivers on Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday.
“These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
The restrictions, which apply to all foreign essential workers, had been expected since U.S. officials announced them in October. They follow a similar rule that took effect at the Canadian border last Saturday.
The border COVID-19 vaccine mandates are coming into force despite pushback from the truck industry. The impact will be felt most acutely for the U.S.-Canada freight market, where around 160,000 truckers regularly cross the border — 75% of whom are Canadian.
Already capacity has tightened significantly, with huge price increases in the spot market. It adds to existing pressures, including COVID-19 itself, which left many fleets operating below full strength.
“The supply chain is already fragile — so it puts all of us in a precarious situation,” Dan Einwechter, CEO of Canadian trucking and logistics firm Challenger Motor Freight, told FreightWaves.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance and American Trucking Alliance have projected that 10%-15% of drivers may leave cross-border trucking as a result of the mandates, and exacerbate existing supply chain issues. On Monday, several dozen Canadian truckers protested near the U.S. border in Emerson, Manitoba.