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Niagara Falls Mayors feel impact of border closure, reiterate safety as top priority

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 09:48:27-04

NIAGARA FALLS, NY — It hasn't been easy.

"40,000 people depend on tourism to put food on the table," Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls Ontario said. "98% of them have been laid off."

The Canadian and U.S. borders have been closed for non-essential travel since late March. It's had quite the impact for both Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario.

"We've been decimated by what's happened," Diodati said.

"It's putting an incredible stress and strain on our budget," added Robert Restaino, mayor of Niagara Falls NY.

Two communities feeling the hurt of the COVID-19 pandemic but they continue to work together.

"Niagara falls, we see it as one city divided by a river," Diodati said. "We know what affects one Niagara Falls has an impact on the other."

The mayors of the Twin Cities say the entire pandemic is frustrating, but the safety of both communities outweighs everything.

"We're gonna have another tourist season, we're gonna have another summer, we're gonna have a lot of other things," Restaino said. "We just want to make sure that we get through this one healthy and safe."

It's why Diodati was one of several Canadian border municipality leaders who sent the following letter to the Prime Minister.

He wants to be heavily involved when it comes to opening the border back up.

"In any business you always go to the front line, you go to the customers and you find out what's going on," Diodati said. "We're the ones that live in these border communities, we think our input should be listened to."

Because while both sides are making progress, the numbers nationwide aren't ideal for traveling. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. currently has more than 3.3 million cases while Canada comes in at around 108,000 cases.

It's a grim situation, but as both sides start to open back up, they can only hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

"I had the pleasure of being down at the State Park Tuesday morning for the ribbon cutting for the new welcome center," Restaino said. "It seems like when those things happen it's nice to be able to be in that situation and say okay, things are opening back up again and we're gonna be okay."

"We miss crossing that border and we miss our friends on the other side," Diodati added. "When those borders do open up, I won't be taking it for granted anytime soon."