US extending travel restrictions with Mexico, Canada

The U.S. is extending the nonessential closure of its borders with Canada and Mexico to at least Sept. 21 due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday.

"In coordination with public health and medical experts, DHS continues working closely with its partners across the United States and internationally to determine how to safely and sustainably resume normal travel," the agency tweeted.

The extraordinary closures have been extended monthly since they were put in place at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. 

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Canada began letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into the country on Aug. 9, but Canadians still can't travel into the U.S. unless it is for an essential purpose.

The current rules have prompted backlash from the travel and tourism industry, as well as from lawmakers in border states who claim the rules are inconsistently applied.

Biden administration officials in June formed working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to weigh when to lift international travel restrictions, but so far nothing has come from the effort. The administration has not said when it plans to loosen restrictions on international travel. 

Earlier this month, the White House hinted that the U.S. would require foreign visitors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but a final decision has not been adopted.

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE moved to lift restrictions on Europe and Brazil in the waning days of his term, but President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE kept them in place once he took office. Biden also added restrictions on India amid a surge of COVID-19 infections there.

But experts have said picking and choosing countries based off of COVID-19 infections is arbitrary because the disease is already entrenched in the U.S. 

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COVID-19 cases have been spiking domestically since the beginning of July due to the rapid spread of the delta variant, but the rising hospitalizations and deaths are almost always among the people who have not been vaccinated. 

Vaccination rates have also been increasing in recent days, after months of plateauing. The Biden administration has started to force the issue, instituting vaccine or stringent testing requirements for federal employees and encouraging private companies to do the same.

About 70 percent of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.