WNY businesses look forward to return of Canadian shoppers

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — More than two months after US citizens were allowed to cross the Canadian border for non-essential travel, Canadian citizens will soon be able to come to the United States for tourism.

“When the Canadian border opened, the US border should’ve opened,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, (D) NY 26th district, Buffalo, who welcomed Thursday’s announcement by the Secretary of Homeland Security that starting in early November, Canadians can drive across the bridge to the US if they are fully vaccinated.

But for the time being, they would still need to get a test to return home to Canada unless the Canadian government changes that policy. “I think we have to make this as simple as possible. This has already been very, very complicated over the past 19 months,” said Higgins.

Buffalo Iron Works, on Illinois St., had been shut down for most of the pandemic but recently reopened just in time for Sabres hockey season, which should soon include Canadian hockey fans.

“We’re just incredibly excited to have them come back,” said Buffalo Iron Works owner, Josh Holtzman. “Especially when we play Toronto, they fill the streets starting at like noon and we’re like, ‘Okay, this is all Canadians coming in.”

Nationwide, the US has been missing out on about $440 million a month in Canadian revenue, and
At the Walden Galleria, about 25% of the shoppers were Canadian before the pandemic.

But now, just in time for holiday shopping, they can return, according to Monica Wallace, (D) NY State Assembly, 143rd district, Lancaster, Buffalo. “When our Canadian friends come over, they might come here to shop at the Walden Galleria, they might go shopping elsewhere, the outlet mall in Niagara Falls and then stay for lunch, oftentimes they’ll actually stay overnight, so we really have been missing them and we’re looking forward to their return.”

The US Department of Homeland Security will also be requiring essential travelers, like truck drivers, to be fully vaccinated by January or else they will no longer be able to continue crossing the land border.

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.


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