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US Land Borders Reopen

October 15, 2021

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What's happening?

This week, the United States announced that its land and ferry borders will open to fully vaccinated Canadian and Mexican travelers starting in early November—no COVID-19 test required.

The US/Canada border was closed to non-essential travel in March 2020. On August 9, 2021, Canada reopened its border to fully vaccinated Americans for non-essential travel without quarantine, as long as they test negative for the virus. The same restrictions extended to international travelers on September 7, 2021.

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These eased land border restrictions were not reciprocated by the United States at the time—but Canadian air travelers heading to the US were permitted to enter with a negative COVID-19 test prior to travel. The inconsistent restrictions between land and air travelers have been subject to criticism on both sides.

It’s currently unclear whether mixed vaccinations will be acceptable to US border officials—which could affect 10% of Canadians, or nearly 4 million citizens, who have mixed doses.

What's the impact?

Canadian travelers constitute a significant portion of US tourism, seeing over 20 million visitors per year prior to the pandemic. Data from 2019 shows that three-quarters of Canadian travelers visiting the US travel by car. The border openings will significantly boost the US economy, which has lost $700M per month due to the Canadian and Mexican land border closures.

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Despite the expected economic recovery, the announcement should also sound the alarm for security teams in charge of travel risk management and facility monitoring. Back in 2019, a GBTA survey revealed that 46% of UK and US business travelers work for companies that lack transparent travel security policies. 

Organizations that still fall into this category are more likely to risk executive safety as international travelers enter the US in an even more complex and unpredictable threat landscape. New risks include:

  • Foot traffic increasing significantly in or near facilities, VIPs, and other assets.
  • Social unrest related to the pandemic and/or borders reopening.
  • Potential for global terrorist activity. Some experts argue that the pandemic has created an environment ideal for terrorist planning and recruitment, which may evolve as international borders reopen.

What can you do?

As the US reopens to non-essential international travel, security professionals need access to the right information at the right time. Online social data—which includes public information from social media, news, forums, and other unindexed web spaces—provides security teams with key insights, such as:

  • Foot traffic levels near critical locations.
  • Early warning signals and real-time updates from the ground for physical security threats.
  • Public sentiment and tensions related to border reopenings.
  • Timely ground-truth information along travel routes.

Specialized OSINT tools are necessary to gather relevant social data efficiently and minimize noise. These tools ensure that security professionals avoid information gaps and stay alert to security threats as early as possible in the post-COVID world.

Connect with us to learn more about commercial OSINT software and how it can support your security goals as borders reopen.


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