“I see him several times a day. I look out the window, and here she is again, ”said DiMaurizio, vice president and general manager of Canada’s leading travel agency, Hornblower Niagara Cruises.
His company’s boats can carry up to 700 people, but Ontario’s strict social distancing rules only allow them to carry six passengers at a time.
In contrast, the American Maid of the Mist boats – which can normally hold around 500 people – are operating at 50% capacity.
The marked difference reflects radically different approaches that Canada and the United States have taken to tackle the coronavirus pandemic – and their starkly contrasting results.The US side of the falls is in New York State, an area with a population of 19.5 million that has recorded 414,000 cases of Covid-19 and 32,000 deaths.
On the Canadian side, Ontario – with a population of nearly 15 million – has recorded 38,000 cases of coronavirus and 2,755 deaths.
The disparity is the result of many factors, including universal health care, premature travel bans and quarantine rules, wearing masks and physical distancing measures.
Maid of the Mist did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a post on a local news website, company president Christopher M Glynn said, “Our team has developed a plan reduction in Maid of the Mist density, which is broad in its approach to security. The plan has been submitted and approved by the state.
As Ontario takes the third step of its plan to reopen on Friday, Hornblower Niagara Cruises will begin allowing up to 100 passengers on each trip – still just a seventh of its total capacity. DiMaurizio said the company will require masks, physical distancing, contact tracing and other safety precautions.
Niagara Falls attracts 12 million visitors a year, and at this time of year it is normally packed with visitors. But DiMaurizio said businesses in the region have given up on any hope of making a profit and are instead trying to hold onto better years to come.
“There is no light at the end of the tunnel… in terms of profitability this year. It is not the goal. The goal is to feel as little pain as possible, ”he said.
Seeing the Maid Of the Mist boats – packed with tourists – twists the knife a little more each day.
“We would really like to be able to have [many customers] but you have to balance that by supporting the province and its measures to keep everyone safe.
“So, yes, I would like to be there. But I’m really happy that Canada is doing as well as it is.