Canada-U.S. border reopening a chance for neighbours to ‘connect again’

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When it comes to Detroit’s culture landscape, Colin McDonald has plenty to do.

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Now that fully vaccinated Canadians may soon head to the United States for leisurely trips, the 30-year-old Windsor, Ont., resident and her fiancé can do just that.

“We would probably book ourselves a hotel… and I’ve been hearing from coworkers about new restaurants, new galleries, all that’s going on there, but haven’t really been able to sort of see,” he said. told Granthshala News.

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“We really miss the connection that we have with all the people of Detroit.”

20 months in the making, the US will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico in early November to travelers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Under the new rules, White House officials said non-essential travelers would be asked about their vaccination status at crossings, and only those who were fully vaccinated would be allowed in. Proof of vaccination will be required if selected for random screening.

Officials said no COVID-19 tests would be required to enter the US by land or sea, provided visitors meet vaccination requirements. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test still required to fly to the US

For Shel Vrubel, co-owner of Chef Shell Restaurant & Catering in Port Huron, Mich., the reopening of the range to customers in nearby Sarnia, Ont., will feel like “a family reunion.”

“Look at where we’re located geographically: Land-wise, half of it is Michigan and the other half is Canada, so you’ve taken away half of our customer base’s ability to come and see us,” she said.

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“We are very excited to be able to re-establish commerce, relationships and welcome our Canadian friends with open arms.”

Fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to travel to Canada for leave from August, as long as they have been fully vaccinated with a Health Canada-approved vaccine for two weeks. Passengers are also required to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

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But for months, the loose rules have not been reciprocated, which has frustrated border town mayors.

Niagara Falls, Ont. Mayor Jim Diodati told Granthshala News that Canada’s vaccination rates – 88 percent of the eligible population were partially vaccinated and 82 percent fully vaccinated – indicating that “we are not a risk to anyone.”

“The border town is often a large city divided by a border,” he said.

“We are thrilled that we will be able to drive in America once again … something we have always done.”

Windsor, Ont. Mayor Drew Dilkens said opening land borders would allow residents to re-share life’s moments with their loved ones.

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“In the 20 months since the shutdown, all those life events have played out…everyone can appreciate that opening up borders, reuniting families, bringing families together and reshaping our economies. Humming is important,” he said.

Like easing border regulations, Canada and the US have not completely turned a blind eye to some vaccines.

While Moderna and Pfizer are approved in both countries, AstraZeneca hasn’t been given the green light for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—a vaccine that contributed to a good portion of Canada’s rise.

In recent days, the US announced that travelers who have received any vaccine approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as the World Health Organization, will be allowed to enter the country.

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This means that Canadians who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine – which has been approved by the WHO – would be welcome.

However, according to White House officials, whether the US will recognize the mixed-dose schedule – two different COVID-19 vaccines – is still being worked out.

More details are likely to come in the coming days and weeks, but Dilkens thinks the US should allow mixed-vaccinated Canadians into the country.

“Americans must accept this.”

Diodati also wants the testing requirements for vaccinations to be revisited.

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“Are we going to force people to spend many hundreds or thousands of dollars every time they come back to Canada with their families?” he said.

“That’s the question we want to know and we look forward to some answers.”

The deadline for the US to reopen its land border is October 21, and White House officials have said it will be extended to an early November reopening date. That date has not been confirmed yet.

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