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Niagara Falls: A tale of two countries battling the pandemic

Posted at 1:22 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 23:33:39-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Viral pictures from Niagara Falls show two different approaches when it comes to reopening during a global pandemic.

The Maid of the Mist is a popular tourist attraction operating on the American side of Niagara Falls. It is currently allowing boats to run at 50 percent capacity, which is 230 passengers. The company tells 7 Eyewitness News that the average trip this season is 35% capacity, which is 135 passengers.

There are physical distancing markers in place throughout the boats. There are also other safety measures in place you can find here.

Maid of the Mist has installed signage on the vessel and throughout the facility reminding visitors of the requirements to visit, including wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing. Staff remind visitors to follow the guidelines and the captain makes a safety announcement prior to the start of each trip.
Maid of the Mist

The Hornblower is a similar tourist attraction that operates out of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Since reopening, it has been running VIP cruises with just a handful of people on each boat. The company said when the Hornblower first reopened it self-imposed a 30% capacity, 210 passenger, limit. Later that day, the government told them thy were classified as a vessel, not an attraction. This allowed for six passengers on the four person crew boat.

“We kind of had an inkling that this looks kind of funny, actually comical or ridiculous a little bit," said Mory DiMaurizio, Vice President & General Manager of Hornblower Niagara Cruises. "But it wasn’t surprising that it was a matter of time before social media picked up on it, and it wasn’t by design, I mean that’s what we were under the orders to execute."

That will change Friday, July 24, when the tours resume with 100 people permitted on each voyage, per Canadian Government guidelines. That's less than 15 percent of the capacity of the Niagara Thunder and Niagara Wonder boats. You can find the safety precautions here.

The Canadian Government's guideline is not a percent, but a hard number of 100. DiMaurizio said the six person charters will continue due to their popularity.