Two months ago I wrote that Canada’s hotel quarantine rules had a loophole. Passengers returning to Canada by air had to spend three nights at a government quarantine hotel waiting for Covid-19 test on arrival results, while those who crossed the border by land could quarantine at home.
This meant land crossings were more attractive,
- Greater freedom and comfort versus being confined to a hotel room
- Savings of as much as CAD$2000 for room and meals
The loophole was this: Canadians can fly into a U.S. airport near the U.S.-Canada border and rent a car or take a cab. Well, it turns out that’s exactly what’s happening.
Airport transport service, Buffalo Limousine, lost about 70 per cent of its business during COVID-19 pandemic. But the company said its luck changed recently, thanks to Canadian snowbirds returning from U.S. sunbelt states who want to avoid Canada’s hotel quarantine requirement.
“This is a huge, huge shot in the arm for us, this Canadian snowbird travel,” said Carla Boccio, owner of Buffalo Limousine. “It’s a godsend.”
…Since late February, Buffalo Limousine has, on average, transported 50 customers a day across the Canadian border, increasing its lagging business by around 50 per cent, Boccio said.
“I’m more thankful than I could even put into words.”
Expect to pay about $100 to the border plus the cost of being driven home, or get family or friends to drop off your own car to pick up there. A trip from Buffalo to downtown Toronto runs about $300. Americans, however, cannot do this because they aren’t allowed to cross the land border except for essential business.
The ‘taxicab loophole’ is added convenience too given over 100 land borders (as well as places to legally cross the border without going through a checkpoint) yet limited places Canada has allowed for international arrivals.
The hotel quarantine policy has privileged driving over flying, with land crossings from the U.S. to Canada up significantly.
On the other hand the Canadian government is now handing out airline subsidies, and airlines have to refund customers for flights they cancelled. Since the beginning of the pandemic Air Canada had stolen customer money, holding onto payments without delivering transportation in return. And the government backed them up. Now, the government is supporting restoration of some flight service and for refunds.
Ironically there might have been a (weak) case for government support a year ago, arguing that Air Canada might not survive. Now that there’s no question about the carrier’s survival the government’s pocket book opened. The minority government is weak there, though, and wouldn’t seem to want to call an election during lockdowns and lagging vaccinations, but could be forced to – and it’s a nice talking point that they got consumers their money back and helped restore air travel.