'It can’t come quick enough': Windsorites rejoice US land border reopening announcement

From family to business to pleasure, Windsorites have a laundry list of reasons why they’re excited for the US land borders to reopen in November.

“It can’t come quick enough,” says Carol Godin. “I have two grandkids that live in Detroit, I haven’t been able to go over there for the last two years.”

The White House confirmed Tuesday night the United States land and sea border will reopen to non-essential travel for fully vaccinated travellers in November after a record long closure of nearly 20 months.

The border announcement means local residents won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and hop on numerous flights to visit family in Michigan who live a short drive away.

“Meeting my fiancé during a pandemic online was not an expected thing but it happened,” says Todd Shearon, who throughout the pandemic had to fly from Windsor to Toronto to Detroit, to visit his Michigan fiancé.

“You roll with those punches and they were like Mike Tyson punches, unfortunately they hurt pretty hard.”

Local snowbirds who were worried they would be forced to stay home for a second consecutive winter are also breathing a sigh of relief.

“We’re winter Texans. We winter for five months in Arlington Texas in Sunshine RV resort,” says snowbird Cameron Clark.

“I’d like to say hi to all my friends in Texas. See you soon, hopefully the first weekend of November.”

The local business community is also eagerly awaiting the border reopening.

“I can tell you how relieved we are, how relieved the businesses are, how relieved communities on both sides of the border are,” says Rakesh Naidu, Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce, president and CEO.

While supply chains and trucks have kept rolling, people who need to cross to do business have been waiting.

“When people meet and interact and engage, business happens,” says Naidu. “Finally, we are able to reclaim our lives back, our business lives back and bring some level of normalcy in our business relationship and business transactions.”

Jon Azzopardi, owner of Laval Tool and Mould in Oldcastle, Ont. says crossing into the U.S. right now is loaded with uncertainly.

He believes U.S. authorities have a lot to learn from Canada’s strict, but predictable approach to reopening the border which he says will do wonders to rebuild fractured relationships.

“I don’t think we’d be foolish to believe that these relationships aren’t going to take time to rebuild, but this is the first step towards moving to that,” Azzopardi says. “So that we can tell our clients that both sides of the border have a way for us to move people across the border.”

Windsor’s mayor has been pressing for a plan since the onset of the pandemic.

“Getting the border open in a safe way, which means fully vaccinated people able to cross I think is a great step. The devil of course is in the details, what will be required to cross in the U.S. is not entirely clear yet,” Mayor Drew Dilkens says.

According to Reuters, Canadian travellers won’t need a PCR test to enter the states, but will need proof of vaccination documentation and a test on the way home.

“Hopefully we’ll have guidance and clarity on that over the next few days,” Dilkens says. “But I like everyone is very excited to get the border open, I think it will be great to reconnect families and to get the economy humming once again.”