Sunday, October 17

Point Roberts Leaders Want Exemption From COVID Testing For Canadian Visitors

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VANCOUVER – COVID-19 testing requirements for Canadians driving home from the United States could only prolong hardships for the small coastal town of Point Roberts, Washington, community leaders say.

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Brian Calder, president of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, said that prior to COVID-19, the community would receive about 1.5 million visitors each year, but half of them often spent an hour or less in the city looking for gas. cheaper, buying groceries or checking your cabins or boats.

When the U.S. border reopens to vaccinated Canadians, there will be no testing requirements to go south, but Canada requires a negative COVID-19 test to return and Calder said that’s a problem for Point Roberts.

Point Roberts only offers testing on Wednesdays and Sundays, which, it said, would limit Canadian visitors.

He said he hopes the Canadian government will lift the testing regulation for the city.

“We are a completely unique place in North America and we deserve to be treated in a unique way,” he said, citing an 87 percent vaccination rate in the community. “We have been very proactive as a community. The last thing we want is to be conduits for COVID, but they don’t listen to us. “

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The land and sea borders between the U.S. and Canada have been closed to non-essential travel since March 21, 2020, and the closure order was extended every 30 days until October 12, when the White House confirmed that it would officially reopen the border for Canadians next month.

US citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated can enter Canada by land from August 9.

Calder said the shutdown has been “economically devastating” for the city, where 90 percent of the economy was wiped out due to travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

“It depends on Canada, not the neighboring communities in the United States, so when you close that border, we are fried.”

Ali Hayton, owner of Point Roberts International Marketplace, the community’s only grocery store, said she was excited to hear the news from the border, but remains “cautiously hopeful.”

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“We’ve had our hopes up before, so I hope it’s real this time because we just need our customers back,” Hayton said.

In July, Washington Governor Jay Inslee visited the site and provided Hayton with $ 100,000 in state funds to help keep his business running.

“The loss of revenue in the last 19 months far exceeds $ 10 million, so the financing helped, but it only scratches the surface,” he said. “We have been fighting a lot, especially since August 9, when they allowed our (American) clients to leave without allowing any Canadians to return.”

Calder said he estimates it will take two to three years for the local economy to recover if the borders remain open and the testing requirement is lifted, but citizens are wary that the border could be closed again.

“Confidence in our border capability has faded and that will undermine what will be needed now to bring people back and rebuild the economy,” he said. “People come here in search of tranquility, tranquility and relaxation. They don’t want apprehension or fear, so that’s my biggest concern right now. “

While the US administration has said the land border will reopen in early November, no exact date has been released.

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This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Reference-vancouversun.com

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