Mayors of border cities in south western Ontario are calling for an end to Covid-19 testing at land border crossings warning that a third season of tourism impacted by restrictions could be catastrophic.
As of today, molecular tests are scrapped but, travelers would still need to provide a rapid antigen test.
Mayors of Windsor, Niagara Falls and Sarnia in Ontario and Niagara Falls, N.Y, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada held a news conference Friday and stressed that the testing is a barrier to travel and economic growth.
The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit where a $105-billion-a-year industry has been reportedly cut in half. Looking ahead to the summer, there are concerns that this trend could repeat itself for the third season.
President of the Hotel Association of Canada, Susie Grynol, said the restrictions need to be lifted immediately in order for a strong summer tourism season.
“No business model can survive being closed for nearly two years,” she said. “If we miss a third summer our sector will be at serious risk of collapse and the booking window for summer is now.”
Niagara Falls, Ont. Mayor Jim Diodati said that about 40,000 residents depend on tourism to feed their families and that the changes should “have happened yesterday.”
“We are planning our marketing right now for this coming season and we don’t want this to be strike three.” “The rules keep changing and it’s a labyrinth … so people are just going to choose not to come. They hear about the horror stories at the border.”
The mayors said navigating changing border rules is confusing and difficult for many people to understand.
“We asked people to get vaccinated,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “Canadians have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. That restriction should remain at the border, but the requirement for a test is an optical illusion for safety.”
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