Families and tourism feeling the impact of border closing due to virus

U.S. and Canada agree to ban non-essential cross-border traffic
Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 17:55:32-04

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y & ONTARIO (WKBW-TV) — As the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic continues to cause concern, the United States and Canada have agreed to ban non-essential cross-border traffic on a temporary basis.

Details are still being worked out but it appears the ban would include exclusions for commerce, education, family care, and compassionate reasons.

However, many are worried about the implications and wonder how long the ban will be in place?

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly talked with Paul Annis from Niagara Falls who has a pregnant-wife and two children in Canada. The couple was scheduled for a final embassy interview in Montreal for Paul's wife who was seeking a green card to live permanently with her husband in the United States.

"What does essential travel mean and will they turn me around at the border?," asked Annis.

Shortly after doing a Skype interview with Ed Reilly, the couple received confirmation that the scheduled embassy interview is cancelled indefinitely. "Are we going to be indefinitely separated? I don't know." added Annis.

Niagara County also stands to take a big hit with the loss of cross-border visitors. "The immediate impact is significant," explained John Percy, Destination Niagara USA president and CEO.

Visits to Niagara County and Niagara Falls have an economic impact more than $7.5 million. Tourism also accounts for more than 16,000 jobs in the county. Will those be affected? "They probably will. I am not going to sugar-coat it," added Percy.

While no one knows how long the pandemic will last, Percy said he hopes the Niagara County tourism industry will be able to recover quickly once the virus is contained. "Thankfully, we are a leisure destination and those tend to bounce back quicker," said Percy.