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January vaccine mandates and border requirements

Photo: Bonnie McCall for RWN

It appears that COVID vaccine mandates and passports (which are neither technically mandates, nor passports) are beginning to be enforced at least inconsistently.

Some truck drivers report they are already being asked to show proof of vaccination at the US border (“apparently, it is already linked to my Canadian passport” one driver notes) while others are being waved through. Since the launch of COVID restrictions almost two years ago, truck drivers have been exempt from showing proof of vaccination and many report they have never even been asked about it by Border Agents.

Road Warrior News has compiled online links to the most current official information available on COVID vaccine requirements from the U.S. and Canadian governments. The links below were confirmed the morning of January 3rd, 2022. If you have more recent/relevant information, please email roadwarriornews@rogers.com

It is important to note that statements made by government may or may not be aligned with requests being made by employers. Some firms are requiring employees show proof of vaccination in order to work; whether or not it is legal for them to demand this is still in dispute.

In October, the United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) announced that come January, truck drivers who have not required COVID vaccinations for two years to cross the border, will require vaccinations to cross the border.

The USDHS fact sheet updated on November 23rd reads:

“Individuals engaged in essential travel will not be required to be vaccinated at this time. Starting in January 2022, however, all inbound non-U.S. persons crossing U.S. land POEs or ferry terminals – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.”

On November 19, 2021, Canada’s Public Health Agency (PHAC) announced in a news release that truck drivers crossing the border would be required to show proof of vaccination to re-enter Canada from the United States.

The PHAC release reads:

“The Government of Canada is also announcing that as of January 15, 2022, certain groups of travellers, who are currently exempt from entry requirements, will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada. These groups include:

  • individuals travelling to reunite with family (unvaccinated children under 18 years of age will retain exemption if travelling to reunite with an immediate or extended family member who is a Canadian, permanent resident, or person registered under the Indian Act);
  • international students who are 18 years old and older; 
  • professional and amateur athletes;
  • individuals with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers (outside of those in agriculture and food processing); and
  • essential service providers, including truck drivers.”

As of January 3rd, 2022, Transport Canada still lists as truck drivers as exempt from vaccination requirements:

Drivers – Essential services

Persons in the trade or transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods or people, including truck drivers, who cross the border while performing their duties or for the purpose of performing their duties

Exempt from pre-entry test
Exempt from arrival test
Exempt from Day-8 test
Exempt from quarantine

***

In a press release dated December 17, 2021, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) called upon the Canadian and United States governments to delay vaccine mandates for cross-border trucking slated to take effect in January 2022:

“Manufacturers on both sides of the border are extremely concerned that proceeding with these measures will imperil integrated North American production and dramatically worsen current supply chain disruptions.

How a trucking vaccine requirement will combine with the current North American supply chain crisis remains to be seen.

“Postponing the implementation of the vaccine mandate and increasing efforts to vaccinate essential cross-border transportation workers should be the focus of the Canadian and US governments,” the release stated. No update has been posted since December 17th.

“Manufacturers are strong supporters of vaccinating all American and Canadian citizens, and that includes truckers. However, a vaccine mandate for truckers, at this time, will sideline one fifth of that workforce, make the trucking labour shortage go from bad to worse, and do severe damage to already struggling supply chains. CME urges the Canadian and US government to hit the pause button before it is too late,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of CME.

How the January vaccine requirement will impact the current North American supply chain crisis remains to be seen.