City council supports review of border protocols

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City council believes all residents who are double vaccinated should be free to travel.

On Monday, they voted to send a letter to the federal government stating their beliefs and asking for the requirement of a negative PCR test to be provided, be removed.

“Windsor and Essex County residents and border residents have done the right thing in being double vaccinated,” says Ward 8 councillor, Gary Kaschak who brought the motion to city council.

Fully vaccinated visitors are the only ones that will be allowed to cross the border starting Nov. 8.

“The testing does seem counter intuitive that you can get a test in Windsor and then travel to the United States for 72 hours and come back on that same tests,” says Kaschak.

The majority of council and Mayor Drew Dilkens agreed.

“What is the value of the test that you got in helping to determine whether or not you are keeping someone with COVID out of the country? It’s worthy of the federal government looking at this,” says Dilkens.

“I’d feel a whole lot more comfortable from our public officials to hear what they think are the potential risks,” says councillor Kieran McKenzie.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit warns residents should weigh the risks and benefits when thinking of crossing over to the U.S.

“I’m hopeful that the number of cases will remain under control,” says Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting medical officer of health.

Nesathurai says changes could be made to the area’s COVID-19 plan, once the border opens next week.

“If there’s a change in the burden of illness then we’ll have to reformulate our public health plan to address that issue,” Nesathurai. “And then we’ll make decisions based on the data that’s available at that point in time.”

The call to cancel the PCR test requirements follows a recent report from a task force, comprised of both U.S. and Canadian representatives, which concluded closing the border entirely to non-essential travel likely did as much harm as good.

“The policy hasn’t changed but we are actively examining this,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, public health chief of Canada.

Tam says the U.S. currently has a higher rate of COVID-19, which poses a greater rise for even vaccinated Canadians travelling to the States.

“Our healthcare system is on the edge of coping, so any layers of protection we can maintain while we’re moving ahead to open up society more and more is really important for now,” Tam says.

It’s a different story to enter the United States.

A negative COVID-19 test is not required at land borders, and fully vaccinated visitors only need to present their proof of vaccination in order to be allowed into the country.