'There was a sigh of relief': Loosened border restrictions met with mixed feelings in Windsor-Essex
WINDSOR, ONT. -- People looking forward to loosened restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border finally have something to celebrate, 15 months after the border was closed to non-essential traffic.
“There was a sigh of relief, like okay, we can start to see some positive and light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak,” says Laurie Tannous, an immigration lawyer based in Windsor and Detroit.
Tannous notes the phased approach, which begins with eliminating quarantine rules for returning Canadians and permanent residents on July 5, are in line with expectations.
“For the border to be closed as long as it has, I don’t think any of us who do this work on the daily, expected it to just fling back open,” she says.
Travellers who are currently able to enter Canada under the existing rules and are fully vaccinated will be able to do so without having to self-isolate for 14 days, taking a test on day eight, or having to stay in a quarantine hotel upon arrival.
Tannous says she will be advising clients there are options available to Canadians to partake in cross-border travel under the new rules.
“To me, visiting a family member or conducting a business, that’s essential, and if that means people need to fly out of Canada and drive back in and they’ve vaccinated, that means they qualify within the law and they’re being compliant, so I support that,” Tannous says.
But businesses fighting for changes at the border says the new rules only address one half of the equation.
“This sounds like great news if you’re a Canadian, and it is. Hats off to the federal government and the province. A little late, but better late than never,” says Jon Azzopardi, the president and owner of Laval Tool and Die in Oldcastle, Ont.
Azzopardi will now be able to send technicians across the border for essential work and have them back on the job the next day, something he’s been pushing for months.
But Azzopardi believes the same rules that will allow Canadians to return home from travel should apply to fully vaccinated Americans as well, which would make a big difference for his cross-border business.
“I really struggle with why Americans are not included on that list,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy camper right now. I’m just not over the finish line yet. I’m not in the end zone. You won’t see me doing the happy dance just yet.”
Rakesh Naidu of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce says the loosened quarantine restrictions also don’t do much for border cities who rely on tourism as an economic driver.
“There’s no reason why we should not consider fully vaccinated Americans as safe enough to cross the border,” says Naidu. “And if we were to allow them to come, it would make a huge difference for businesses, for tourism, and you can do it in a safe manner.”
Naidu says every day counts, especially for businesses who will lose another month of the summer tourism season waiting for the next phase.
He’d like to see a bubble established between Canada and the U.S.
“We’ve been holding our breath for quite some time and it’s suffocating for a lot of businesses,” he says.
Laurie Tannous believes all signs point to a less restrictive border by the fall of 2021.
“If the metrics continue in a positive trend, an upward trend, we will move to the next phase of the opening,” she says.
- With files from CTV Windsor's Stefanie Masotti