Canadians Stuck in the US Hire Taxis to Get Home to Avoid Hotel Quarantine

U.S. taxi and limousine services are booming in business from customers looking to cross the Canadian border by land to avoid Canada’s new travel restriction that only applies to air traffic.

While either method of travel still requires travelers to take a test within three days of departure, and again upon arrival, only those flying to Canada must spend up to three days of the required 14-day quarantine period in a hotel.

This requirement caused many air travelers to instead opt for car or limousine services to take them across the Canadian border.

“They call from six in the morning to 12 at night,” said John Arnet, the general manager of 716 Limousine in Buffalo, N.Y. “We’ve had so many requests for border crossings that we’re turning them down.”

Arnet says the company now does more business driving Canadians to Ontario than with U.S. clients.

A taxi trip across the border can cost almost $250, making it a much cheaper option than a C$1,200 ($961) three-day stay in a Canadian hotel. Furthermore, land travelers can choose where to quarantine, whereas air passengers who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at a government-mandated facility.

With the Canada-U.S. land border closed for most of the year due to COVID-19, and with overall tourism down, the recent boom in business has come as a relief to struggling taxi services.

Nick Boccio, Buffalo Limousines’ general manager, said that the Canadian clientele has helped the company bring back more chauffeurs. On Friday, Boccio said the company gave nine different rides to Canadian passengers from just one flight from Florida.

While business is booming in the U.S., the Canadian premiers of Ontario and Quebec, Doug Ford and Francois Legault, urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to tighten the restrictions at the land border in an open letter released Thursday.

“While it is crucial that the transport of essential goods not be hindered by border measures, it is likewise crucial that all non-essential travel be curtailed,” the letter read.

“The introduction of stricter measures for travelers crossing at land borders is a significant step to achieve that goal.”

Still, COVID-19 cases related to international travel comprise a small percentage of Canada’s overall infections. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, through February 22 to March 25, 1.5 recent of air passengers tested positive for the virus upon arrival compared to 0.3 percent of land travelers.

According to Johns Hopskins University, more than 23,000 people have died due to the coronavirus in Canada to date, while over 1.18 million cases have been recorded. Record infections and hospitalizations continue to shake Ontario, Canada’s most populated province.

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