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Removal of COVID border measures key step to Windsor’s full economic recovery

Removal of COVID border measures key step to Windsor’s full economic recovery

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Sep 23, 2022  •  1 day ago  •  3 minute read  •  10 Comments

The Canada/U.S. border line inside the Windsor/Detroit tunnel is shown on November 8, 2021.
The Canada/U.S. border line inside the Windsor/Detroit tunnel is shown on November 8, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The pending decision by the federal government to remove the remaining COVID mandates at the U.S. border is greatly welcomed by local business, political and industry leaders as the jump start the local economy needs to return to full health.

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The Liberal government is expected to announce Monday that it is ending mandatory vaccination, random testing, quarantining of international travellers and is making the ArriveCAN app an optional tool.

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A decision on continuing to mandate masks on international flights and domestic trains is yet to be made.

“That is great for economic development and for business here in the community,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

It’ll be a challenge getting that business back

“Removing the vaccination requirement, removing the ArriveCAN requirement, I think will send a very positive signal to folks who are wanting to cross because we’ve removed the friction and the barriers that exist at the border.

“We know living in a border community, it’s so important to have as little friction as possible when crossing the border.”

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In this Oct. 13, 2021, file photo, Rakesh Naidu, CEO and president of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, is shown speaking to reporters in Tecumseh.
In this Oct. 13, 2021, file photo, Rakesh Naidu, CEO and president of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, is shown speaking to reporters in Tecumseh. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

The federal government’s order in council authorizing the border measures expires Sept. 30.
Windsor Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Rakesh Naidu said local business is exhaling a ‘collective sigh of relief’ over the mandates expiring.

“It’s what we wished for, but it would’ve been nice if it would’ve come sooner,” Naidu said.

“We’ve lost the summer season. We’re only seeing about half the visitors we used to have.”

Naidu added the economic pain created by the border measures wasn’t isolated in the economy.

“Several sectors, ranging from manufacturing to hospitality, tourism, wineries and retail, were impacted,” Naidu said.

“Unfortunately, I think we may have lost some people (American visitors) permanently.

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“There’s been lost business (in manufacturing) because companies have found American suppliers or partners. It’ll be a challenge getting that business back.”

Gordon Orr, CEO, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, is pictured outside its downtown office, Saturday, May 23, 2020.
Gordon Orr, CEO, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, is pictured outside its downtown office, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Statistics Canada data released this month on the number of American visitors to Canada (2.2 million) in July 2022 is 60.7 per cent of the levels seen in July 2019.

Day trips by automobile remain at 55.8 per cent (155,200) of pre-pandemic levels.

There were 2.6 million Canadians going the other way in July representing 60.1 per cent of July 2019’s numbers.

“No other community in the country, other than another border community, was devastated as much by the ArriveCAN app,” said Windsor Essex Pelee Island Tourism CEO Gordon Orr.

“It killed spontaneous travel. All those experiences, such as gaming, the wineries, retail, Americans could find alternatives. Once they break a habit, it’s hard to get them back.”

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Orr said the tourism/hospitality industries aren’t expected to fully recover until 2024.

Debi Croucher, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Association, oversees set-up for road closures on Friday, July 24, 2020.
Debi Croucher, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement

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