Crossing the Peace Bridge on Canada Day or July 4th, a longstanding tradition for people on both sides of the border, remains a challenge this holiday weekend.
The Canadian government last week extended until September 30 the requirement for visitors to fill out the confusing ArriveCan app to deal with Covid-19 issues, and as a result, the summer travel season seems doomed for the third year in a row. Reluctant travelers just don’t seem to want to deal with ArriveCan.
The US-Canada border will open a bit more starting Monday as Canada relaxes the requirement to vaccinate most children visiting the country and relinquishes its mandate that vaccinated visitors must provide a quarantine plan in case they become ill with Covid-19.
Now, officials and stakeholders in Buffalo, Fort Erie, Ontario, Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, and along the 3,000-mile border, are expressing concern close to outrage. The local economy, dependent on cross-border traffic, continues to suffer from restrictions long made unnecessary as Covid-19 levels decline, they said.
Niagara Falls, one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, continues to see sluggish cross-border visits due to requirements that include entering vaccination status and exact destinations on the app. The Peace Bridge Authority and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission are reporting a sharp drop in revenue due to traffic levels that are about half of pre-pandemic 2019. The same goes for duty free shops. And many travelers looking to resume conventional cross-border travel are simply considering other alternatives, postponing Ottawa’s constant demands.
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“At a time when most people are returning to a semblance of normality, frontier communities in the US and Canada are far from where they should be,” said the Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. “It’s the start of the 2022 travel season and we still have all these frills and hurdles we need to get rid of.”