'Feels like we're getting back to normal,' says Windsor resident on removing PCR test for short border trips

Ottawa announced fully vaccinated Canadians taking short trips abroad will no longer need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return home, effective Nov. 30. Here's how some in the Windsor, Ont., area are reacting to the news.

Canadian testing requirement will be gone Nov. 30, no requirements to enter the U.S.

Land border crossings between Canada and the U.S. reopened Nov. 8. But a COVID-19 test is required for Canadians coming back into the country. By Nov. 30, that requirement will be removed for certain travellers taking short trips. (Jason Viau/CBC)

For Camille Armour, the removal of the COVID-19 testing requirement at the Canada–U.S. land border crossing is a hopeful sign for her relationship, even if it's only for short trips. 

Armour, who lives in Windsor, Ont., says that throughout the pandemic, seeing her fiancé Tim Ross from Toledo, Ohio, in the U.S. has involved an hour and a half drive, as well as expensive tests, flights and quarantine requirements. 

"[The pandemic] was tough; it really changed the dynamic of our relationship," she said.

On Friday, the federal government officially announced fully vaccinated Canadians taking short trips abroad will no longer need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return home, beginning Nov. 30. 

The federal government said the test exemption will apply to fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who depart and re-enter Canada within 72 hours. It will also apply to unvaccinated people with a right of entry if they are under age 12 and accompanied by their fully vaccinated parents or have certain medical conditions preventing them from being vaccinated.

Any Canadian entering the U.S. must show proof of full vaccination, but do not have to complete any testing.

Windsor, Ont., resident Camille Armour, shown with her fiancé Tim Ross of Toledo, Ohio, says expensive COVID-19 requirements complicated seeing each other, but now she's relieved fully vaccinated Canadians will no longer need to get tested for short trips across the border, effective Nov. 30. (Submitted by Camille Armour )

That news is "huge" for Armour. She said it will be great to cross into Michigan for quick day trips and to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts or festivals. 

This is a game changer for people living in a border town like Windsor, who would often cross into Michigan for things as simple as getting groceries or going to a concert. 

"It feels like we're getting back to normal," said Armour. 

In a statement posted to his website Friday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said the removal of the test is, "fair, reasonable and compassionate" for people needing to visit family or friends.

Dilkens was one of many border mayors vocal about removing the need for a negative COVID-19 test when the land border reopened on Nov. 8. 

For now, Canadians returning from longer trips and all foreign travellers entering Canada will still have to show proof of a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of their departing flight or planned arrival at the land border. 

'Falls short' of business community wants

Rakesh Naidu, president of the Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce, told CBC News that while this is welcome news for Windsorites, he and others in the business community were hoping the test would be dropped for American visitors making short trips as well. 

"For a border community like Windsor-Essex to truly benefit from reduced restrictions on the border we have to have PCR tests waived for non-Canadians as well, so while this is good news, it falls short of the expectation of the business community," Naidu said. 

Rakesh Naidu, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, says he expected the restrictions eased for Canadians would be the same for Americans crossing into Canada. (Kerri Breen/CBC)

If fully vaccinated Canadians are considered to be "safe," Naidu said it should be the same for Americans as well. 

He added that this is a prime time for businesses to be able to benefit from holiday shopping. 

"For travellers and tourists, maybe they want to do some instinctive shopping or ... visit the restaurants, and sometimes the spontaneity is something that would make a difference and we'd welcome that, so that is unfortunately not possible with the way the current system is being put in place," he said. 

Before the end of the year, Naidu said, he hopes the test is dropped for Americans wanting to make a quick trip to Canada. 

With files from Sophia Harris, Michael Hargreaves


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