Recent photos of boat tours at Niagara Falls are highlighting the difference between the U.S. and Canada’s coronavirus responses.
Pictures of packed boats on the U.S. side of the Falls compared to nearly empty Canadian vessels reveal the stark variations in how each country is dealing with the pandemic. Currently, Ontario’s strict social distancing guidelines only allow six passengers per boat at a time. Normally, the tour boats can carry up to 700 people. U.S. boats, on the other hand, are currently operating at 50% capacity. Given their typical limit of around 500 people, some ships are carrying more than 200 passengers at a time.
The image, as seen above, visualizes the radical differences between the U.S. and Canada’s coronavirus approaches. Between January and the end of July, Canada reported 114,597 total cases and 8,901 deaths. Ontario, alone, reported 38,799 cases and 2,764 deaths. The U.S., in the same period, reported more than 4.2 million cases and 146,546 deaths. The state of New York alone has reported 417,056 cases and 32,322 deaths, nearly four times as many as the entire country to its north.
In a recent poll, 85% of Canadians said the U.S. border should be closed for non-essential travel through the end of 2020.
A few basic differences led to Canada’s superior coronavirus numbers, including lessened population density and universal healthcare. The majority of factors, however, boil down to each country’s approach.
In the early days of the pandemic, Canada reacted far more strongly than it’s southern ally. Strict mask-wearing mandates, social distancing measures, and quarantine rules all helped Canada better control the virus. Travel bans and early testing assisted in this effort. The U.S., on the other hand, has been criticized for its lax approach. Social distancing measures were lifted in many parts of the country in late April, and despite rising numbers, states continue to reopen and ease social distancing measures and mask-wearing mandates.
All of these details were personified in the photo from Niagara Falls. The packed U.S. boat showed not only the U.S. government’s refusal to employ stricter standards but also its citizens’ refusal to take the virus seriously. Not only did the Americans on board choose to enter the crowded space, but very few of them appear to be wearing masks.
While Maid Of the Mist—the U.S. owned company behind the U.S. tour ships—is likely seeing far greater financial stability for its choice to continue operating at 50% capacity, it is making a decisive trade. The Canadian-owned Hornblower Niagara Cruises company has already accepted that 2020 will yield little financial return but sees the decision as obvious given the threat to Canadians’ safety and wellbeing.