How COVID-19 has affected Niagara Falls
Seeing eerily quiet streets and boarded up storefronts during the pandemic has been weird for all of us, but it's been extra daunting for regions that are not only known for having a steady flood of people year-round, but rely on it.
Niagara Falls, as one the most famous waterfalls in the world, is one of Canada's top tourist attractions, with around 14 million people coming through each year to see the natural phenomenon and indulge in the casinos, restaurants, hotels and other amenities that the area has to offer.
Travel restrictions, mandatory business closures and COVID-19 fears have meant that the usually bustling locale has been a shadow of its former self for weeks, with nowhere near its usual revenue.
I miss Niagara Falls 🥺 pic.twitter.com/FW1XgUC9hT— 》¤ŞŻĞ¤《 (@EnVieLaRose) April 30, 2020
A whopping 98 per cent of the industry has been laid off since March, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati told CTV News yesterday, adding that the city of 80,000 residents worries about its future, as it normally relies on billions in tourist dollars.
The wineries that characterize Niagara-on-the-Lake have seen a similarly drastic fall in business.
Though many who come to enjoy Niagara are actually from Ontario, the closure of the nearby border to the U.S. has been its own issue, as Americans represent around a quarter of the area's annual visitors.
Today, Niagara Falls still looks spectacular, but with no admirers... 😟😞. Hopefully soon this place will get filled up again. #NiagaraFalls #StayAtHome #tourism pic.twitter.com/uZGlWKvDih— Grace Kusta Nasralla 🇱🇧/🇨🇦 (@gkusta) May 19, 2020
Still, Diodati doesn't want the region to re-open until case numbers are low and it's completely safe to do so — but with the nicer weather now upon us, the falls already saw a Trinity Bellwoods-esque situation earlier this month, with people jamming sidewalks despite physical distancing orders and the fact that non-essential businesses were still closed.
Diodati has said that when establishments in the area do reopen, they will likely expand their patios to be able to make up for the blow of having to cut capacity for health and safety. But, as the CBC reports, nearly 40 per cent of businesses do not think they will recover from the weeks of losses.
Even after they are allowed to resume operations, not being able to hold large events or cater to massive crowds will definitely pose difficulties going forward.
Some more pictures that I've taken today around Niagara Falls #ontario during the #Pandemic #COVID19Canada #COVID19Ontario visiting from #ldnont #travelphotography Empty Streets #tourism #Travel pic.twitter.com/L9QXasNjvR— J P (@BraveTube) May 19, 2020
Though some people online seem to be having a hard time sympathizing for an industry that makes such a ridiculous amount of money in a good year (and charges a tourism fee to help do so), hopefully as things start opening up, the businesses on the usually packed Niagara strip will be able to make things work and survive under the new, socially distant normal.
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