Canadians wishing to head south, including those in South Delta looking to cross into Point Roberts, will be restricted as of early Saturday morning.
On March 21, the U.S. and Canada will temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the U.S.-Canada land border. Non-essential travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreation.
According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the measure will be in place for 30 days, and then reviewed.
“Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by this measure,” said Trudeau in a media statement. “Americans and Canadians cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons and that travel will not be impacted.”
Point Roberts fire Chief Christopher Carleton said his department continues to work with border officials to ensure that the 28 volunteers from Canada will be able to cross and serve his community.
“I don’t believe we will be negatively affected. It is more employer-based at this time with them not acknowledging they are employees that work for my agency as well that are legally allowed to cross the border and volunteer in that capacity,” said Carleton. “The relationship I have with Customs Border Protection U.S. and also Canadian Border Services is a very good relationship and we have a good understanding of the need due to the demographical location of my community. I have the highest respect for both agencies and will continue doing everything we can to make sure our members are allowed to come across the border and continue to serve the community of Point Roberts as emergency service providers.”
Carleton said despite news of the closure, the community remains positive and is working hard to help out where ever they can.
“We are extremely resilient as a community – something that you don’t maybe see in other communities,” he said. “We know we are going to have a decrease in commerce, but regular commerce and trade is not supposed to be affected by this non-essential travel directive. We will hopefully still be able to get all commerce through for the necessities that we need to continue our lives, but for the regular economics that we are used to in our businesses, that will most likely decrease to a degree.
“It’s never been more important than now to have all our community members support the businesses within Point Roberts to the best of their ability. My hats off to all the businesses that are staying open for carry-out and extending their hands to the community to help all of this get through this. I’m very proud with my community.”
The owner of In Out Parcel, told the Optimist in an email that once the closure is in place, there will be staff living in Point Roberts to handle receiving and forwarding.
“Automated locker service is still available for the few customers that can still cross border, potentially for people that have dual citizenship or work visas,” he said. “There is already a 50 per cent drop for incoming packages this week, and we anticipate to drop further to 20 per cent next week, and perhaps below to 10 per cent of our usual volume in the coming weeks.
“In the meantime, with a reduced staff count due to concerns of border closing, some staff that are living in Canada decided to stay home. The reduced staff are very busy forwarding packages to customers to Canada.”
He encourages customers to stay up to date at: https://inoutparcel.com/coronavirus/.
Meanwhile, Whatcom Unified Command, a group that was set up in Whatcom County to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, has created an international task force to help deal with concerns around the border closure.
In a media release, the task force said they will ensure that all Point Roberts residents’ needs are met and ensure continuity while protecting its citizens.