Point Roberts residents can at last make trips into Metro Vancouver when the Boundary Bay border re-opens for non-essential travel starting on Monday.
“I would say there will be numerous individuals who want to go into the Lower Mainland,” said Point Roberts fire Chief Christopher Carleton who oversees the community’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic. “There are some people here who haven’t seen a physician in the last 17 months because their relationship has been in Canada and they were unable to find other physicians in the mainland of the United States. Nobody was accepting new patients during the pandemic.”
To enter Canada, visitors need to provide proof they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 72 hours of their arrival at the border. Not fully vaccinated residents will still "be eligible to enter Canada to carry out everyday functions and access goods and services within their neighbouring Canadian communities, so long as they remain in those communities while in Canada." That special clause is for the isolated communities of Point Roberts, Hyder (Alaska) and Northwest Angle (Minnesota) only.
The documents must be uploaded to the ArriveCAN app where other travel information is also required. That’s where making a number of errands is difficult to clarify, according to Carleton.
“It wants you to place a destination you are going to. We don’t have one because we are going to do general shopping and everything else. What does that destination mean? Do they want us to put down the mall as our destination?” he said. “CBSA officers have yelled at residents for not having the ArriveCan app filled out but CBSA officials have come out and said up front it doesn’t work for our community because we are transiting directly. It just never has worked for our community.”
Currently, COVID testing in Point Roberts is available on Monday and Wednesday mornings with results typically returned within 24 to 30 hours. The cost is $135 which may be covered by insurance or at the state or federal levels for those eligible for assistance. About 80 residents were tested during a two-hour period on Wednesday.
Carleton said U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated do not have to provide a negative COVID test when returning to the U.S. He added about 85 percent of Point Roberts’ 800 residents are vaccinated. Another clinic is scheduled for Sunday.
Meanwhile, U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene were the latest to put pressure on Washington to grant a border exemption for Point Roberts. They sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
“We appreciate and are grateful for the Administration’s science-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we also appreciate that sound science is based upon evidence. And we firmly believe that the evidence supports a narrow and tailored exception to the Administration’s Canadian border closure and a reopening of the Point Roberts port of entry to Canadian travel,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Such an exception is defensible on the basis of Point Roberts’ unique geographic isolation and economic devastation and in no way undermines the Administration’s border policy: no other community the size of Point Roberts is located in an exclave along the Canadian border.”