Niagara, Ont. mayor says border restrictions should have been lifted sooner

Border towns like Niagara Falls are eager to welcome American tourists after the federal government announced on Monday that border restrictions related to COVID-19 will be eased on Oct. 1.

However, the town’s mayor says the move should have been done before the summer to reap the most economic benefits.

“When you stop tourism, it’s devastating. It was supposed to be our recovery year, 2022. And it’s been great for domestic tourism,” Jim Diodati told Global News.

« The downside is that the Americans haven’t come back. »

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Canadian borders were reopened in March, but only to those who met vaccination requirements. From Saturday, anyone will be able to enter the country, regardless of their vaccination status.

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While Diodati says the restrictions should have been lifted sooner, he adds « we are grateful that this happened ».

Just like the shops in the neighborhood. While Clifton Hill attractions are expected to thrive, a number of shops on nearby Queen Street have been forced to close due to pandemic difficulties.

« It’s not as popular as the tourist areas, but there are lots of good businesses and restaurants on this street, » said Dominick Barranca, owner of the Back Alley Barber Shop on Queen Street.

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That’s why Barranca hopes that the expected tourism boom will help rebuild the economy.

“We pass, (the Americans) come. It’s good for business and a lot of people didn’t come because they didn’t want to deal with ArriveCan and stuff,” he said.

While Niagara businesses are generally optimistic about the news, some, like Amanda Williams of Third Space Cafe, are expressing concern.

« It’s kind of concerning that a lot of unvaccinated Americans — who have been a little careless, maybe, from what I’ve observed with masking over the past couple of years — will come here, » he said. Williams told Global News.

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« But yes, we should see an increase in business. »

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According to Diodati, 50% of Niagara’s revenue comes from the United States, which is why he says it’s crucial to keep American tourists coming back.

He is pushing for the prime minister to stage a grand reopening of Canada in a bid to attract more tourists.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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