Cross-border travel could soon return between North American neighbours.
Canada-U.S.A. crossings have been closed to non-essential travel since the pandemic hit last March. But after 15 months there’s optimism restrictions could finally loosen this month.
“We’re going to have to open eventually because our border communities of Sarnia-Lambton and Windsor-Essex, their economies are quite intertwined with that of the United States and to some degree we are too here in Chatham-Kent,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby.
For southwest Ontario residents this light at the end of the tunnel could be literal at the Detroit/Windsor underwater crossing, or paths along the Ambassador and Bluewater Bridges.
In addition to being able to see family and friends and take part in cross-border shopping and exploring, the border opening could also bring health benefits to the region.
“Many US border communities are offering free vaccines to Canadians so that the vaccine doesn’t get wasted. That will boost our vaccinated numbers,” says Colby. There’s even been discussion of a vaccination site being set up right in the Detroit Windsor Tunnel to avoid any international quarantine regulations.
However Colby says the tradeoff for this opportunity is that our southern neighbours “have really maxed out in terms of the demand for vaccines there. That’s unfortunate because they’ve maxed out at a much lower level than would be optimum.”
June 11, 61 per cent of Michigan residents age 18 and up had gotten one dose and 54 per cent were fully vaccinated.
As for whether he supports bypassing the local vaccine effort in favour of a potential foreign alternative, “As a local public health officer it’s not my prerogative to allow or disallow that kind of behaviour. But when it becomes legal and permissible I will certainly do nothing to impede that process from happening,” says Colby.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent