Pricey COVID Test Upon Return May Deter International Trips
Canadians hoping to head abroad in the winter season are still facing added costs of up to $200 upon return the country.
The North American country requires a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of returning to the country, and the pricey regulation is causing frustration on both sides of the border.
Although the advisory against non-essential international travel was lifted in recent weeks, and its own borders reopened to visitors, the significant figure being required is putting off both long and short time travelers.
Towns and cities along both sides of the 5500 mile border are feeling disproportionate effects, as many of their economies rely heavily on short term visits.
Over 20 million Canadians visited the United States in 2018, with more than half entering at one of the 119 land crossings dotted along the border. Crossings in the other direction were on the rise before the pandemic, with as many as 2 million Americans venturing northwards in a single month.
But with millions of those trips typically same day or weekend trips to border cities like Detroit and up state areas of New York, the potential $200 fee isn’t worth the journey yet.
Cities like Windsor, Ontario, which is only a bridge away from Detroit, has a strong NFL following, and many Canadians would make the short trip on weekends to see the Lions play. Tacking a further $800 on to a family weekend just isn’t viable for most people.
The burden of financial loss falls heavily on the communities on both sides, which have long relied on the back and forth trade between the two countries. In March, the President of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership stated that the county of Erie, NY had lost as much as $855 million in business from Canadians alone, with figures potentially crossing the billion dollar threshold.
The issue reaches individuals who have been separated from their families for over a year. In the frustrating predicament of being as little as an hour apart, but unable to see one another, families will now have to weigh the financial burden of nearly $800 to see relatives for what could be a day or two.
The mayor of Windsor, Drew Dilkens, elaborated on his personal frustrations with the border rules. He hasn’t been able to visit his brother, who lives in Detroit, for the duration of the pandemic. And while entering the US via air was allowed, traveling via Toronto and Montreal to get to a city his own home shares a river with was nonsensical.
“Twenty months of separation has been hard on a lot of people,” Dilkens says. “We’ve always considered Detroit to be an extension of our backyard. On the business side, we’re tightly integrated, but also on the family side.”
“Snowbirds” as they are affectionately called, are those Canadians heading across the border to sunnier climes like Florida, taking advantage of the 6 month allowance Canadians have in the US. Generally an older demographic, this group of travelers are expected to be the least impacted by the rules, and many are hoping they may even be fully lifted by the time they return in the spring.
It remains to be seen how much of an impact the added cost will have on border crossings, but as the US opens this week, there is at least hope that the halted industry will have created enough demand to help offset the losses of the last year.
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