Soaring gas prices and a special border exemption have Canadian traffic heading to Point Roberts at volumes not seen since prior to the pandemic over two years ago.
The U.S. pene-exclave has been recognized as a remote border community by Canada’s Order in Council. It means fully-vaccinated Canadians can make essential or non-essential visits for any length of time and are not required to present a pre-entry negative COVID test when returning home or go into quarantine.
However, the procedure that includes the use of the ArriveCan app and potentially being randomly selected for a COVID test, had many Canadians hesitating to make the short trip until now.
Border traffic began to pick-up over the recent B.C Family Day long weekend and has increased substantially since as Canadian gas prices hit record levels. A trip to Point Roberts will currently save about .40 cents per litre.
Kelly Bravener at SSExpress (formerly USA Gas) described business as “insane” on Friday.
Meanwhile, the trickle effect was noticeable at the adjacent International Marketplace grocery store with a number of cars with B.C. licence plates in the parking lot. Across the street at Nielson’s Building Centre, staff said they are seeing more Canadians with summer homes coming into the store.
It’s welcome news to Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce president Brian Calder who has watched his business community suffer greatly since the border was initially completely closed at the start of the pandemic back in March 2020. He would still like to see the travel restrictions eased further.
“Gas stations are busy and the Marketplace (business) has improved,” said Calder. “Canadians are regaining confidence in the ability to cross the border.
“However, ArriveCan remains a deterrent for many. As a result the parcel depots are still suffering a loss of business and many construction and service trades are refusing to come to Point Roberts.”
What is needed for fully vaccinated Canadians to visit Point Roberts?
Entering Point Roberts: Proof of vaccination maybe requested. Otherwise only a Canadian passport or Nexus card is needed. Trip details are given verbally. Note, U.S. Nexus lane is currently closed.
Returning to Delta: Passport/Nexus, proof of vaccination and trip details must be uploaded into the ArriveCan app. This can be done at home prior to your trip by adding the ArriveCan app to your smart phone or filling out the information on your computer. Your Port of Entry is Boundary Bay. Exact return time isn’t essential as long as it’s on the same day.
Remember the app is not set-up to recognize Point Roberts’ special exemption, so the negative test requirement and quarantine information is not necessary. All the ArriveCan information is in the system for the Canadian Border Services officer to review.
With files from Jim Kinnear