Detroit-Windsor Tunnel reopens Monday to vaccinated foreign travelers

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Whether it's to visit a favorite mall, with family or to sightsee, vaccinated foreign travelers at the border with Canada on both sides will be able to travel again using the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel starting Monday.

The tunnel reopens at midnight after being closed to the general public March 21, 2020, just after the pandemic began, and for the first time since then, vaccinated Canadians will be able to cross the U.S. border for nonessential purposes. The reopening includes land borders with Canada and Mexico, and means Michigan's border with Canada is open to those coming to the U.S. by land or ferry for non-essential travel.

Travelers crossing the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico will have to provide proof of vaccination upon request of Customs and Border Protection officers. By January, foreign nationals traveling by land border to the U.S., both essential and non-essential, will be required to be fully vaccinated.

The Canada, United States of America border in the Windsor Tunnel.

The Canadian border opened to nonessential travel in August as long entry requirements were met.

“It will be great to see our customers again, and we offer our thanks for the patience shown as we continue to navigate through this global pandemic together,” said Neal Belitsky, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel president. “We are happy to announce that we are reopening border travel to the U.S. through the tunnel to vaccinated, nonessential travelers, and we will be working with our partners in the U.S. and Canadian governments to ensure a safe return to service.”

The toll for the tunnel on the Detroit side will remain cashless while toll workers on the Canadian side of the border will accept cash until the end of the year. Then cash will no longer be accepted as a form of payment.

Few are expecting a flood of tourists immediately. Those entering Canada, including Canadians returning from even the briefest of visits on the American side, must show the negative coronavirus molecular test result within 72 hours of arrival. Lawmakers, businesses and residents say the costly requirement, some tests are $200, will deter the day-trippers, shoppers and families for which their economies have yearned.

On Monday, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, will host a virtual press conference Monday to highlight COVID-19 testing requirements to return across the land border crossing.

At issue are the mandatory PCR tests to return to Canada following a visit to the U.S. Dilkens said the testing requirement for Canadians to return to Canada "is going to be a deal killer for most."

"Our government has to find a way to find symmetry and harmony with the U.S. so that the rules are the same," Dilkens said during a radio interview Oct. 28. "If they don't (end the PCR test), then the reopening of the border won't be a reopening of the border for most people."

► RELATED REPORT: U.S. finally reopening border to Canadians, but Canada’s rules may be deterrent

Transit Windsor’s tunnel bus service currently remains suspended. Monday will mark the first time in 19 months that fully vaccinated Canadians will be allowed to cross the U.S. land border for nonessential travel such as tourism or family visits.

Health screenings at the borders may be required by the federal government as well as Canadian government guidelines. Travelers are being encouraged to consult with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website and Canada's Public Health Agency for more information.

Before the pandemic, the tunnel served 12,000 daily customers and 4 million annually. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is operated by Detroit-based American Roads through a lease with the city of Detroit that began in 1998 and runs through 2040.

Travelers can get real-time updates and traffic information online at www.dwtunnel.com, on Twitter @DetWinTunnel.

Vehicles enter the United States as a bus makes its way to Canada in the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel last year.

John Roach, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Sunday: "The reopening of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel is another sign that our economies are getting back to normal and gives workers and travelers another option to cross our international border with Canada. The city will continue to do everything it can to operate safely in the COVID environment."