End in sight for COVID-19 border restrictions in Windsor, Ont.

By the end of September, the federal government plans to drop its COVID-19 vaccine limit requirements and the ArriveCan application will become optional, sources confirmed to CTV News late Tuesday afternoon.

The government is expected to make that policy change by the end of the month and the sources said the Liberals will also end pending random COVID-19 testing for travellers.

Earlier in the day, a group of border town politicians called on the Canadian and US governments to end pandemic restrictions at the Canada-US border and sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden on Tuesday.

It was signed by 22 Canadian-US border mayors and 16 members of the United States Parliament and Congress.

They said it was time for both governments to end “unnecessary” conditions at the border and restore it to a normal pre-pandemic state. It said border mayors had engaged health professionals and received advice on best practice, noting that pandemic-era measures were no longer useful or helpful.

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“It’s time to move on,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “We know that communities like ours have the app, although it may seem simple to many of us, we know it’s a barrier for people to come to Canada.”

The letter notes that air travel has been allowed to resume at such a high volume that air infrastructure is struggling to handle the number of travelers and notes that unvaccinated travelers can travel thousands of miles across Canada and the United States , while land borders are regulated at the expense of communities whose livelihoods depend on crossing the border back and forth.

“It’s an obstacle for people to cross the border,” Dilkens continues. “And in a border town where we rely on smooth and efficient border crossings, any friction is bad for business.”

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The policy group said the letter made it clear “this is an impartial matter” and implored both federal governments to take urgent action to help border communities recover and return to normal.

Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk told CTV News Windsor he was optimistic about forthcoming news on border measures such as the mandatory ArriveCAN app.

“I’m very confident that the government fully understands the challenges facing border communities like ours when it comes to things like ArriveCan and other border measures,” says Kusmierczyk. “And so we’ve definitely made sure our voices are heard in Ottawa, and I’m very optimistic.”

He explains, “We’ve definitely heard from local residents, from voters, we’ve heard from companies, we’ve heard from seniors, we’ve also heard from people in the disability community who have just really told us about the challenges ArriveCAN presents to them.”

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Kusmierczyk says people are used to having a seamless border that allows for two-way traffic, saying: “It’s always been like this and when you drive across you know that the one or two questions that come to you.” at the border are where you are you are going and what you are bringing and that’s it. And so we want to go back to that time like we did before the pandemic when we had a seamless border and we want to get as close to that as possible.”

Kusmierczyk adds: “We will have some good news on the ArriveCAN issue, on the September 30 border measures.”

– With files by Rachel Aiello of CTVNews.ca

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