Canada, Mexico, U.S. Extend Joint Border-Crossing Restrictions

Credit: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

WASHINGTON—Restrictions limiting border crossings between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. to essential travel have been extended through Oct. 21 as the three countries work to minimize the risk of novel coronavirus transmissions. 

“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of COVID-19,” acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Twitter Sept. 18. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through Oct. 21.” 

The restrictions, rolled out in March initially for a month and extended several times, prohibit discretionary travel, such as vacations and non-essential business travel. Combined with other international restrictions and quarantine requirements, they have effectively wiped out all international airline passenger demand.  

The latest figures from Toronto Pearson Airport, Canada’s largest, showed international and U.S. transborder passengers declined 96% and 98%, respectively, in June compared to a year earlier. 

The situation is similar at Mexico’s main gateway, Mexico City International Airport. International traffic was down 90-95% year-over-year, from April through July, before recovering slightly to 85% down in August, airport figures show. 

At the top U.S. airport ranked by passengers handled, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International, travel by international passengers was off 93% in July, its latest available figures. 

Canada’s dire airline-passenger figures have led its airlines to call on government officials to adopt more flexible policies to open up travel. Air Canada and WestJet have announced trials to help quantify quarantine and testing protocols. IATA has also called on Canada’s elected officials to consider alternatives to restrictions and quarantines. 

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.