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OOIDA calls on Biden to end US border vaccine mandate

Group says COVID-19 restrictions unnecessary, harmful to owner-operators

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the border vaccine mandate has created more paperwork and pushed some trucking companies out of business. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has urged the U.S. government to lift COVID-19 restrictions on cross-border travel after Canada announced it would end its vaccine mandate beginning Saturday.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer called for the U.S. to end its border vaccine mandate for non-American truck drivers traveling back and forth from Canada and Mexico in a letter sent Monday to President Joe Biden. 

Spencer said the border vaccine mandate has created more paperwork for owner-operators and “forced them out of business or to change their operations.”

“Truckers already face difficult working conditions and must comply with an enormous regulatory burden,” Spencer said. “The United States’ cross-border vaccine mandate adds another unnecessary obstacle for them. Even for drivers who may be in compliance, the continuance of the mandate is just another piece of government red tape for which they have to manage additional paperwork and possible delays.”

The Canadian government announced Monday it is dropping all remaining COVID-19 border restrictions, including vaccine requirements for travelers entering the country. They will no longer have to provide proof of vaccination, undergo any testing or isolate and quarantine.

“The removal of border measures has been facilitated by a number of factors, including modeling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4- and BA.5-fueled wave, Canada’s high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as the availability and use of vaccine boosters, rapid tests and treatments for COVID-19,” the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a news release.

Canada and the U.S. combined for over $666 billion in bilateral trade in goods and services in 2021. Trucks carried about $370 billion in goods between the countries last year. Trade between the U.S. and Mexico totaled $661 billion in 2021, with trucks carrying more than $460 billion of that. 

The U.S. began its vaccine border mandate for foreign drivers in January 2022. OOIDA has maintained that truckers should be exempt because they are essential workers.

Spencer also said truck drivers pose less of a health risk since their job often keeps them away from other people.

“Since commercial drivers spend the majority of their time alone in their vehicle and outside, there is no evidence that truckers present a higher risk of spreading the virus,” Spencer said. “Moreover, there is no evidence that truckers have been the source of any coronavirus outbreaks within the United States, suggesting that the cross-border mandate is likely to be having little, if any, effect.”

Watch: What every fleet should know about new owner-operator laws.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]