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Northern New York Businesses Worry As Canadian Border Remains Closed

Rainbow (international) Bridge, Niagara Falls, from Crowne Plaza Hotel, Canadian side of the Niagara River
Verne Equinox
Wikimedia Commons
Rainbow (international) Bridge, Niagara Falls, from Crowne Plaza Hotel, Canadian side of the Niagara River

Travel across the New York - Canadian Border will remain off limits for most recreational or family trips after a deadline this week to lift the ban. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to keep the restriction in place, despite complaints about economic impacts from tourist and retail businesses here in New York. John Momot owns Blue Haven Campground in Northern New York. He's concerned about losing out on Canadian customers long-term.

"I’m be worried that the longer it stays, the greater the chance that the Canadians won’t return on an extended basis, that they’ll find ways to recreate and spend their free time in Canada,” said Momot.

In addition to campgrounds, restaurants, marinas, and shopping centers such as Destiny USA have all seen huge declines in customers from north of the border. Senator Chuck Schumer is urging Canada to find a framework to allow some of travel to resume.

“They haven’t come up with a plan. So every month, everyone’s waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and you don’t hear much,” said Schumer.

Trudeau says Canada is not ready for international travel yet. The country didn't have local vaccine manufacturing, so relied on imports. Global Health Professor Patrick Saunders-Hastings of Carlton University says supply really held back overall public health.

“That I think has been the major blocker or delay," said Saunders-Hastings. "But now we are starting to see something a little similar to the United States where capacity and supply is less of the issue, and it’s really organizing the logistics of the administration.”

And the country focused its limited supply on getting one dose in most people's arms, so few have had the recommended two doses of vaccines needed for some types. Trudeau is defending the approach.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way, but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” said Trudeau.

He cites the daily flow of nearly $2 billion worth of cross-border trade as evidence of the right balance between public health and commerce. However, the heads of several Canadian provinces are pushing for a concrete plan to resume travel.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.