The Detroit–Windsor Border and COVID-19

  • Michael Darroch York University
  • Robert Nelson University of Windsor
  • Lee Rodney University of Windsor


This brief essay chronicles the closure of the Detroit–Windsor tunnel during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the Canadian government’s containment measures in the spring/ summer of 2020 from the authors’ perspectives as both residents and researchers living in the border city of Windsor, Ontario (Canada). Drawing upon crossings in March and June 2020 as well as reflections on the urban cross-border context that Windsor and Detroit facilitate, the article details the changes in border operations and the resulting difficulties faced by local communities. In conclusion we point to the current, local quagmire that Windsor–Essex finds itself in, having some of the highest case COVID-19 counts in Canada as of July 2020. Caught between a laissez-faire approach to managing the migrant worker outbreaks in Essex County, and slow-moving county/provincial and federal responses to the pandemic, local attitudes toward reopening the border here seem more divided than in other parts of Canada.