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BUFFALO, N.Y. — With its important economic impact on Western New York, we are still closely following the cross border travel situation with Canada as it relates to COVID. 
Canadian leaders did issue a new policy Wednesday with the new variant. It is just a travel advisory, instead of outright new restrictions for Canadians. 
The Canadian government held a press briefing Wednesday afternoon to urge its citizens to avoid non-essential foreign travel because of the spreading COVID Omicron variant in the provinces. But it is not yet an actual ban on such travel, including to the United States. 
That advisory will be reviewed in four weeks and perhaps is setting the stage for more definite action. And it may cause some Canadians to think twice about coming to the United States as they cross one of our Western New York international bridges.
That’s a concern for John Percy who is President of Destination Niagara USA. He says, “With the advisory people are going to couple with that, and maybe even pull back from, maybe a perspective trip or potential trip that they had planned here to cross the border.”
According to the CTV Canadian news network, fully vaccinated Canadians returning to Canada after a short trip of 72 hours or less would at this point still be able to do so without proof of a negative molecular test commonly known as the PCR test. That was a significant sticking stay-put point for some Canadians in the past. 
It may be crucial for the in-coming Canadian shoppers and the U.S. side merchants in Niagara County who really count on them. Percy says a snapshot shopping perspective of international spending involving only VISA credit cards showed $59 million spent in Niagara County by such visitors in 2019. He says there is much more spending projected besides just VISA cardholders. 
Percy says, “We’re in the thick of the holiday shopping season, and Canadians are our best shoppers and really do impact Western New York by crossing and visiting our various malls and retailers and food outlets including Wegmans and so forth.”
And another yardstick of sorts is the traffic flow from Canada to the US on the international bridges in Niagara County-Rainbow, Lewiston-Queenston, Whirlpool, and not including the Peace Bridge in Buffalo.
Percy told 2 on Your Side, “I spoke to someone from the Niagara Bridge Commission last couple of days and they had told me that they have seen a 50 percent increase with cross border traffic since December 1.”
So again for now just this advisory from the Canadian government for its citizens against any international travel which may affect some. 
The CTV report does say their government will continue increased testing capacity at border with more on that soon to come. So stay tuned. But no effect on vaccinated US citizens entering Canada at this point.
This advisory policy will be reviewed in four weeks as the Canadians try to step up vaccines and booster shots just like here in the United States.
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