Continuing to Also Require a COVID-19 Test – At a Cost of Up to $199 plus Tax Per Person – Will Likely Discourage Many from Crossing
A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted October 14th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Earlier this week, news surfaced that after 19 months of being closed to so-called non-essential travellers, the U.S. Biden administration will open border bridges to Canadian visitors sometime this November.
The U.S. administration’s decision comes two months after Canada’s Liberal government opened the border bridges with two key conditions attached – first that any U.S. citizen entering Canada can show proof to border officers that they are fully vaccinated, and second, that they also provide a test showing that they are free of the virus.
The news from the Biden administration was joyously received by political leaders on the U.S. side, including Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins, who was lobbying for a re-opening for many months.
“At long last,” said Congressman Higgins in a statement released this October 13th, “there is action by the United States to open the doors and welcome back our Canadian neighbors.
“A robust cross-border exchange between the United States and Canada,” Higgins added, “is fundamental to our binational relationship and mutually beneficial to our nations’ citizens, businesses and economies. Strong vaccination rates in Canada made the continued border shutdown absurd and unjustifiable.”
There is one big hitch, however, that could cause many Canadians and Americans to think twice about crossing the border for a day or two to visit friends and relatives, go to a show or a restaurant, or do a bit of shopping, and here it is.
If one or both federal governments continue to require that fully-vaccinated border crossers also produce a COVID test, the cost of the test along could be enough to convince many to stay home.
I have read and heard that the cost of a test on the U.S. side could run up to $200 per person, and many friends and acquaintances I have heard from, like so many interviewed in the U.S. media, have simply said forget it. There is no way, they say, that they will spend that kind of money cross the border for a short visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls or some other destination in Southern Ontario.
In Ontario, the provincial government outsources COVID testing for people travelling to other countries to Shoppers Drug Mart outlets at the beginning of this year and the reported cost of testing per person has ranged from $40 or $50 to as high $199 plus tax.
By the way, there are reports that at the time the Ford government turned the testing over to Shoppers Drug Mart, the cost of a test when the province was covering it was $48 per person.
Good grief,$199 is quite the jump, isn’t it? Like about 200 per cent. Looks like quite a bit of price gouging is going on to me.
Following the news that the border bridges could be open to both fully vaccinated Canadians and Americans this coming November, we are still waiting for both governments to finish working out the details, including the exact date of the opening and what information will be required from travelers.
There have been mixed reports that both federal governments may agree to only require proof of full vaccination from citizens on both sides. That would make sense, but it still isn’t certain COVID tests will continue to be required, at least from Canada’s Trudeau government.
If that is the case, my bet that many residents in Niagara, Ontario and other regions in the province who would otherwise be happy to cross the border after a 19-monthshutdown, will decide, all on their own, to join many of our American neighbours in saying forget it.
Hopefully the testing requirement will be dropped by both governments for the sake of people on both sides of the Niagara River.
It was one thing to require COVID tests from out-of-country visitors before vaccination became available. That made a good deal of sense. But I think we can all agree that circumstances have changed for those who have taken a vaccine that has already proven to significantly reduce the transmission of the virus and the risk of vaccinated individuals getting seriously ill and possibly dying.
So this journalist, who has been a strong advocate on this site for people getting fully vaccinated so we can return to some semblance of normalcy, says it is time to scuttle the testing requirement.
We have already paid more than we probably ever could have imagined when this pandemic settled in some 20 months ago.
At long last, those who have followed all of the rules and taken the vaccine deserve a bit of a break.
– Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
To read an earlier piece Niagara At Large posted on re-opening the Canada/U.S. border crossings, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2021/10/13/canada-u-s-border-will-reopen-to-fully-vaccinated-canadians-this-november/
To read a report on the cost of COVID testing in Ontario – https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-no-longer-providing-free-covid-19-tests-for-international-travellers-1.5230129
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