‘Accept that coronovirus will always be with us’: Niagara Falls mayor
Published December 2, 2021 at 3:25 pm
After nearly two years of the pandemic, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati believes that some form of COVID-19 will always be within society from this point on.
Asked by a Toronto TV station about any worries over the newest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, Diodati confessed to being “really concerned.”
“We’re just starting the recovery for tourism here in Niagara Falls. We’re the number one leisure destination in the country,” he said, that 40,000 of his residents count on tourism to feed their families “so we’re watching it very closely.”
However, he added that with continually seeing new variants crop up, “I think we have to accept the fact that the coronavirus is going to be with us. It’s just going to be a way of life now and it’s all about risk management.”
He said the city is trying to get in front of it with increased safety protocols, “So we’re trying to do the right things and we’re hoping there’s not going to be a series of kneejerk reactions to the latest news (by new restrictions from levels of government) because we know (Omicron) won’t be the last variant.”
He added that recently the city has seen crowds returning for the weekends but “during the week, it’s still quite quiet.”
A large part of that is American tourists (an estimated 40 per cent of the city’s pre-pandemic revenue flow) have simply not come back. Diodati has said in the past that with the PCR COVID-19 testing still mandatory for American visitors, they are shying away from crossing the border because for a family, it could add $1,000 to a trip.
“The Americans, by and large, have not come back. It’s been a trickle just because there’s been too many unknowns. The labyrinth of requirements and testing – it’s just too confusing.”
He believe that has created a double-edged sword for border cities on the Canadian side because now the federal government is allowing Canadians to border-hop for a limited time without that cost.
“So now Canadians are allowed to go into the US as long as they come back within 72 hours. So Canadians will take their hard-earned money and spend it in the US but it’s not being reciprocated in Canada (by Americans).”
He acknowledged that it was good news for Canadians wanting to visit relatives across the border but was “not great for Canadian businesses.”
On the positive side, he said the city is bracing for a solid New Years Eve – a huge step-up from 2020 – adding his citizens within the hospitality industry “are expecting a good New Years for the first time in quite some time.”
“We’ve been Canada’s answer to (New York City’s) Times Square for years,” he said.
“Our last major (New Years Eve) event before COVID we had Bryan Adams, we had 60,000 people here in person and millions of people watching on a national broadcast so it’s become known over the last 30 years, we’re New Years Eve Central.”
(Below: a poster for Bryan Adams’ New Years Eve 2019 show in Niagara Falls)
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