The border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Houlton. Credit: Alexander MacDougall / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — The United States will keep its borders closed to nonessential travel until at least Aug. 21, despite Canada’s intentions to reopen its borders to Americans on Aug. 9.

“To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel,” the Department of Homeland Security announced through Assistant Press Secretary Angelo Fernández Hernández. “DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”

The extended closure means that while Americans living in border communities such as Maine’s Aroostook County may travel into Canada, Canadians cannot do the same for another month at least. U.S. citizens are also exempt from border restrictions when returning to the United States, according to the U.S. Embassy in Canada.

Although border crossings are restricted, Canadians may come to the U.S. by air after taking a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. Canada has increased the number of airports providing travel to the U.S., from four during the pandemic to twice that number.

The U.S. will decide later whether to release the restrictions on Aug. 21. Canada has also announced that other nations besides the U.S. will be allowed to travel into the country on Sept. 7.