US Congressman: ‘Don’t make Canadian travellers pay for expensive COVID-19 test to get back into Niagara Falls’

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Published November 2, 2021 at 10:03 am

Add New York Congressman Brian Higgins to the list of those who believe the cost of Canadian travelers crossing the border between Buffalo and Niagara Falls to be far too high.

While U.S. Customs and Border Protection need only to see proof of double vaccination, Americans coming up here or Canadians returning here have to get an expensive PCR COVID-19 test. That test runs between $150 and $250 American.

The land border between Canada and the US will fully reopen on the Canadian side on November 8. But is the cost of the test going to put off Canadian desires for a day’s shopping in Buffalo?

In a letter written to Canada’s ambassador to the US, Kristen Hillman, Higgins said, “While both the United States and Canada will understandably require proof of vaccination from each other’s citizens to gain entry, only Canada will require a negative COVID-19 test in addition to the aforementioned proof of vaccination at all points of entry. This policy will have adverse side effects that will harm our respective economic recoveries.”

Before the border was even open to American tourists, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati cautioned, “I think it’s going to be gradual, like a dimmer switch, because for day trippers, it’s an awful lot of work and hoops to jump through in order to be able to cross that border.”

Higgins has economic reasons he’d like to see the COVID-19 tests dropped from the criteria.

Canada is the largest international inbound market to the U.S., with nearly 21 million visitors spending $20.8 billion in 2019.

That same year, over 10.5 million people crossed from Canada into the U.S. through border crossings in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region specifically. Canadian visitors represent 30 per cent of Buffalo Niagara International Airport customers, 80 per cent of Niagara Falls International Airport customers and approximately 20 per cent of Buffalo Bills season-ticketholders.

Higgins added, “We can no longer continue subordinating the financial and economic health of our communities and citizens, especially when (travelers) have done the right thing, gotten vaccinated, and continue to follow all public health rules and regulations.”

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