Tunnel traffic up in August, but still nowhere near 2019 numbers

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Use of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel is on the rise, but it's still nowhere near what it was in 2019.

The federal government began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travellers to enter Canada via land borders on Aug. 9. 

Tunnel use is up to more than 97,000 people from the over 63,000 travellers last year, but that's still a far cry from the more than 400,000 travelers in August of 2019.

Windsor-Detroit Border Link Ltd. operates the Canadian side of the tunnel. 

CEO Carolyn Brown says two types of traveller account for the majority of non-essential visits so far.

"We know anecdotally that spike in traffic after Aug. 9 was triggered by family reunification and folks visiting there residential properties that they hold in Canada," she added. "Folks are being very diligent in terms of ensuring they complete their appropriate test and they have the appropriate documents to cross."

She says tunnel traffic won't see a drastic increase in traffic until at least Sept. 21.

"If they U.S. federal government will commit for vaccinated Canadians to cross into the U.S. via the land border, because that is when our numbers will really spike," she says.

Brown says the Duty Free Shop is back to a 24/7 operating schedule in response to increased tunnel traffic. 

She says the provincial and federal governments provided $5-million in funding last year to cover losses at the tunnel, but there are no guarantees that will be covered for 2021.