TORONTO, ON — It is the news many Western New Yorkers have waited to hear for over a year now. But it won't be as simple as just crossing the Peace Bridge.
"I am a dual citizen, I have family in the Niagara Falls, Canada region, I almost cried today when I heard that I could actually go visit them," said immigration attorney Rosanna Berardi.
Canada will begin letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens into Canada on Aug. 9, and those from the rest of the world on Sept. 7. However, even if fully vaccinated, visitors will still have to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at least 72 hours prior to entry.
"I think it's unfortunately a little bit of smoke and mirrors. They're saying it (the border) will open but it's not really open," said U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs (R) (NY-27).
"I don't know why a fully vaccinated person just doesn't have the right to go up without any other hurdles they have to get through," Jacobs said.
Congressman Brian Higgins (D) (NY-26), who has pushed heavily for the border to be reopened, agreed. In a statement, Higgins said he does not support testing requirements for asymptomatic vaccinated travelers calling it redundant and unnecessary.
At the same time he applauded the announcement, saying the measure "can’t come soon enough."
Canadian officials say the 14-day quarantine requirement will be waived as of Aug. 9 for eligible travelers who are currently residing in the United States and have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Monday a date for the U.S. to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to cross the land border isn’t yet known. Any Canadian can fly to the U.S.
City of Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati emphasized the importance of the border reopening for the tourism industry and told 2 On Your Side he has been in contact with Blair.
"There was a lot of information exchanged but I guess what he said was, it's a good beginning, it gets the ball rolling, it gets the border open for the people that want to go see family, want to go see their property that have some reasons to go over," he said. "They'll find a way to get there despite the challenges of having to prove they are safe."
“It is extremely frustrating that the United States government has failed to reciprocate current family exemptions already allowed by the Canadian government and failed to show a lack of urgency to make any progress on this side of the border toward lifting restrictions," said Higgins.
"There are logistics to be worked out and questions to be answered certainly, but the U.S. has neglected to give reopening the Northern Border the serious attention it deserves, and there is no excuse. Failure to coordinate this announcement in a bi-national way will only lead to confusion among travelers. We will continue to push for action by the U.S. government to welcome our Canadian neighbors back.”