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Canadians factor COVID testing costs into shopping trips across U.S. border

Lily Jamali Nov 19, 2021
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Travelers on the U.S. side wait to cross into Canada at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Canadians can now cross into the U.S. for nonessential travel but must have a pricey PCR test to return. Geoff Robins/AFP via Getty Images

Canadians factor COVID testing costs into shopping trips across U.S. border

Lily Jamali Nov 19, 2021
Heard on:
Travelers on the U.S. side wait to cross into Canada at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Canadians can now cross into the U.S. for nonessential travel but must have a pricey PCR test to return. Geoff Robins/AFP via Getty Images
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This holiday season is one of high hopes along the 49th parallel, home to the U.S. border with Canada.

A new policy of the Joe Biden administration allows vaccinated Canadians to visit by car and ferry for the first time since March 2020.

But while getting to the American side is easy, getting back to Canada is harder — and can be expensive.

Canadian Len Jarvis hasn’t been to the border town of Ogdensburg, New York, since the day before the border closed because of COVID.

A lot of things cost less on the U.S. side. So, now that he can make the border crossing, Jarvis came for holiday shopping and to hit the Price Chopper supermarket for food that’s hard to come by up north.

“Yogurts that are a little bit different here than there, especially the key lime,” he said, laughing. “Can’t get that [in Canada]. If there is, I don’t know where it’s at.”

It’s worth the cash he’s already spent on the COVID PCR test the Canadian government requires residents to take and show to return home.

“It is a deterrent,” Jarvis said. “I’m $248 poorer because of it.”

That’s money the American economy could use, said U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins of New York. Last year, Canadians’ car trips over the border fell off by more than 90%.

“We have lost two tourist seasons. This testing requirement needs to be dropped,” Higgins said.

He’s been pressuring the Canadian government to do just that.

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