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Niagara Falls Mayor Believes End to Land Border Covid-19 Testing Will Rejuvenate the Economy

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Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati says Canada’s removal of COVID-19’s test requirements for fully vaccinated travelers crossing the border from the U.S. to Canada “could be huge” for the city’s negatively impacted economy due to the pandemic.

He mentioned that Canada’s top tourist destination before the pandemic was accommodating around 14 million tourists each year, which is about half of the revenue for the city and its businesses.

However, the closures of Niagara’s hotels, casinos, restaurants, and the general hospitality sector impacted close to 32,000 residents of the entire region due to unemployment, requiring Ontario’s government to invest millions into support programs to boost tourism in early 2021.

A spring 2020 Niagara economic survey gave an overview of the impact, estimating around $7.8 billion in potential losses to businesses, according to 1,300 respondents who reported losses of $425 million related to the pandemic.

“We’ve got a chance this year of snapping back and having a really, really good season,” Diodati told 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today. “Of course, everybody’s still tentative … waiting for that shoe to drop, but right now, people are really excited.”

Diodati’s hesitation is what Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos mentioned during the Trudeau administration’s announcement on Thursday, declaring that the health measures will be “subject to review” and could be altered.

“We will continue to adjust them as the epidemiological situation here in Canada and abroad evolves,” Duclos told reporters.

Diodati was one of the 15 Canadian municipal leaders who called for the Federal Government to stop COVID testing requirements, describing the policy as not in line with the current mandates for public health.

“Community spread is responsible for 99 percent of all infections, so the rules for travelers are now obsolete,” Diodati claimed.

On April 1, visitors to Canada will not need to provide proof. However, those arriving via plane can be randomly tested at airports. Unvaccinated Canadians can travel to Canada in the condition of several measurements to ensure that they don’t expose other people to COVID-19.

Diodati saidy that the current challenge for Niagara Falls and many of Canada’s tourist destinations are reestablishing “broken patterns” that he believes travelers have adapted during the pandemic, limiting their movements.

“Up until now, there’s been such a labyrinth of rules and regulations and confusion and frustration,” Diodati said. “The traveling public are like water, they take the path of least resistance, and there was a lot of resistance at our borders.”

Public Health Canada encourages travelers to create a quarantine strategy should they receive a positive test result. An infected person must stay with relatives or friends at a campsite, hotel, or RV rental. The government does not reimburse for the cost of accommodations.

This story originally appeared on Global News.

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