Windsor's Duty Free Store applauding move to reopen border

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Officials at the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Duty Free Store are breathing a sigh of relief as plans are underway to reopening the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel.

General manager Liz Meloche says the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the store in a big way with revenue declining by more than 91% since border restrictions were rolled out.

Meloche says staff were brought back in August in preparation for a reopening that didn't pan out.

"We brought employees back, we opened up 24/7 again and we've been waiting and hoping for the U.S. government to reciprocally open their land border and we've had to reduce our store hours once again. It's just devastating."

Meloche says less traffic means fewer customers.

"In August, traffic was still down 75.1% compared to pre-pandemic levels," she continued. "So you got to think about this, U.S. customers that we would have coming in, only 56% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and able to cross right now."

She says employees are ready to get back to work.

"We have such dynamic employees and they love to be busy. So knowing what it could be like, and living through the way it is now, it's just devastating for the employees," Meloche said.

While a specific date has not yet been given, border restrictions are expected to be lifted in early November allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enter the U.S.

While the border is set to reopen to non-essential travel, the FDFA is calling on the Canadian federal government to take two specific measures which includes eliminating the expensive PCR rest for fully vaccinated Americans crossing the land border.

The group also wants the federal Liberal government to implement a campaign promise to help the hardest hit businesses, which includes duty free shops.