U.S. Taxi Services See Business Grow to Help Canadians Avoid Hotel Quarantine

U.S. Taxi Services See Business Grow to Help Canadians Avoid Hotel Quarantine

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The airport transportation service, Buffalo Limousine, lost about 70% of its business during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the company said its luck has changed recently, thanks to Canadian snowbirds returning from U.S. solar belt states wanting to avoid Canada’s hotel quarantine requirement.
“It’s a huge, huge blow to the arm for us this Canadian snowbirds trip,” said Carla Boccio, owner of Buffalo Limousine. “It’s a godsend. “

Since February 22, air passengers entering Canada necessary for quarantine for up to three days in a designated hotel and pay the cost – up to $ 2,000. However, travelers entering by land are exempt from the rule.

To avoid hotel quarantine, some snowbirds fly to U.S. cities close to the Canadian border – like Buffalo, New York – then hire a ground transportation service – like Buffalo Limousine – to drive them across the Canadian border. .

“When Canada imposed this hotel [quarantine], so it was like our phones were exploding, ”Boccio said. What I hear from the majority of these people is not even the cost so much, it’s like you’re in jail… with this hotel in quarantine. ”

A new post on the Buffalo Limousine website informs Canadian travelers that it will drive them from Buffalo, NY, across the Canadian border. (Buffalo Limousine)

CBC News interviewed three airport transportation services based in Buffalo and one in Burlington, Vermont, about 70 kilometers from the Quebec border. The companies said they would drive Canadians to or across the Canadian border for around US $ 100 and, for an additional fee, the Buffalo companies would drive passengers directly to their homes in Ontario.

Each company said it saw its business grow after Canada introduced the hotel quarantine requirement.

Since the end of February, Buffalo Limousine has, on average, transported 50 customers a day across the Canadian border, increasing its lagging activity by about 50 percent, Boccio said.

“I’m more grateful than I could even say. “

Buffalo Limousine charges around US $ 120 to drive a couple from the Buffalo Airport across the border to Fort Erie, Ont., Or Niagara Falls, Boccio said. A trip to downtown Toronto costs around US $ 300.

Land crossing has different rules

Federal government surprised snowbirds abroad when it changed travel rules on February 22, requiring air passengers entering Canada to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and spend up to three days of their 14-day quarantine in a hotel to wait for the test results.

Ottawa has introduced the hotel quarantine requirement to discourage international travel and help stop the spread of COVID-19 infections, which are on the rise due to more contagious variants.

But travelers entering Canada by land face no hotel quarantine requirements. Instead, they must quarantine the home for 14 days and pass several COVID-19 tests, including one in the United States within 72 hours of arriving at the Canadian border.

According to data from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), land entries into Canada jumped 15% in the first three weeks of March, compared to the same period in February (when quarantine rules in the hotels were not yet in effect). These entries include both leisure travelers and essential workers who are not truck drivers.

WATCH | What it is like to stay in a quarantine hotel:

CBC News’s David Common takes an exclusive tour to show what a quarantine hotel looks like in Mississauga, Ont., For residents who have been exposed to COVID-19 or who have tested positive and cannot fully self-isolate home security. 3:40

To avoid the requirement to quarantine hotels, snowbird Jaroslaw Stanczuk said that upon returning from Florida later this month, he would fly to Buffalo and take a cab across the border to his home in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Stanczuk, who received the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, said he was taking necessary safety precautions during the pandemic and felt quarantining the hotel was an unnecessary step.

“Do you want me to take a COVID-19 test? I’m happy with it. Do you want me to receive one when I arrive? I’m happy with it. But why punish me with three days of quarantine in a hotel? ”

Canadian snwobird Jaroslaw Stanczuk said he plans to fly to Buffalo on his return to Canada from Florida and then take a cab across the Canadian border. (submitted by Jaroslaw Stanczuk)

Other snowbirds also travel by taxi. Since the hotel quarantine rule came into effect, Buffalo Airport Taxi has said it has driven, on average, 20 to 30 customers a day across the Canadian border, increasing its business by at least 50%.

“They want to go home. They don’t want to go to quarantine jail, ”said Saleman Alwhishah, Buffalo Airport Taxi Manager. “It has boosted our business enormously. “

Why can American drivers cross the border?

John Arnet, general manager of 716 Limousine in Buffalo, said he was inundated with requests for transportation across the Canadian land border and questions about rules for entering Canada during the closure of the Canada-U.S. Land border non-essential traffic.

“Most of the questions are…” Can you take us across the border? “Said Arnet. “Yes, we can get you across the border. We are an essential service. “

The CBSA said foreign transport workers, such as taxi and bus drivers, can enter Canada while the border is closed, if they establish that they are employed as drivers and perform a service related to their work.

CBC News has asked the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to comment on Canadians returning home by land to avoid the hotel quarantine requirement. The agency did not provide a direct response. Instead, he listed the types of fines and other penalties Canadians can incur if they break quarantine rules.

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