Due to coronavirus, the border between the United States and Canada has been closed since March 21, 2020. Both governments strongly feel that it’s not safe for residents of either country to cross into the other, due to high cases of the very contagious and potentially deadly COVID.
That being said, there are about five different loopholes that may or may not work to get to “the other side,” depending on what side of the border you’re on and where you’re going. And now there’s apparently another one that’s not only doing well, but is also giving a boost in business for some U.S.-based taxi services.
Effective February 22nd, Canadian air travelers returning from non-essential trips abroad have had to isolate in a federally mandated facility for up to 72 hours while they wait for the results of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Upon arrival at Canada’s international airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal, Canadians are required to stay at a specified hotel in the city for 3 nights, at their own expense. The cost is roughly $2,000 (Canadian) per person (the price includes room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, security and transportation).
However, those rules don’t affect those crossing the land borders. And although the land borders are officially closed except for essential personnel and Americans driving to Alaska, the country won’t close its gates to Canadian citizens, they can always (re-)enter.
We had written in February how some Canadians in the U.S. were planning to use that loophole to their advantage. They planned to take a taxi into Canada, so they could self-quarantine at home for 14 days, for free, instead of at a hotel. We also wrote that Canadian officials were aware of this trick but weren’t planning on doing much about it.
It turns out that a LOT of people, especially snowbirds, are doing this, and besides Canadians “winning” by saving themselves $2000 per person, U.S. taxi companies at the border are also “winning” because business has been booming.
As per the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) taxi companies in border cities such as Buffalo, NY and Burlington, VT have seen their business grow by about 50%.
From the CBC:
The companies said they’ll drive Canadians to or across the Canadian border for around $100 US and, for an added fee, the Buffalo companies will drive passengers directly to their homes in Ontario.
Buffalo Limousine charges about $120 US to drive a couple from the Buffalo airport across the border to neighbouring Fort Erie, Ont., or Niagara Falls, said Boccio. A trip to downtown Toronto costs around $300 US.
Buffalo Airport Taxi says they’re driving about 20 to 30 customers per day into Canada. And after rides dragging since COVID stated, this is a great shot in the arm for them.
Of course, taxi drivers are considered an “essential service” so they can easily drive across the border in either direction.
Again, the Canadian government knows very well that Canadians are doing this. In fact, thanks to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) data, they even know that land entries into Canada jumped by 15% during the first three weeks of March, in comparison to the same period in February (the hotel quarantine rules weren’t in effect during the first 3 weeks of February). But as we said in February, they didn’t plan on doing anything about it, since it would be too difficult to keep up and they expected it would be a relatively few numbers of travelers.
CBC News did ask the Public Health Agency of Canada () for comment about the situation but the agency didn’t directly respond.
I wonder if PHAC considers a 15% increase in land crossing to be “relatively few. 😉
Feature Photo: USDA.gov
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary