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Washington State Gov. wants clarity on when Point Roberts border will re-open for Canadians

Letter sent last week to U.S. President Joe Biden
Inslee international marketplace
International Marketplace owner Ali Hayton (left) takes Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and US Congresswoman Suzan DelBene on a tour of her store during a visit to Point Roberts back in July.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee is seeking more clarity from U.S. President Joe Biden on why there hasn’t been special circumstances made to re-open the land border for communities in unique geographic locations such as Point Roberts.

In a letter delivered last week, Inslee continued his plea to re-open the south-bound side of the Boundary Bay crossing to vaccinated Canadians and what exactly it would take for it to happen. His request comes after U.S. Homeland Security announced lessen restrictions are coming for international travellers arriving at U.S. airports.

“I am writing to urge immediate action to provide relief to residents of my state who are uniquely impacted by the ongoing restrictions on non-essential travel through land and ferry crossings by Canadians into the United States,” wrote Inslee.

“Additionally, clarity from your administration is badly needed to understand the circumstances and conditions necessary to permit entry into the United States via these crossings. The most recent extension of these restrictions until at least Oct. 21, 2021, taken together with the relaxation on restrictions for international travellers flying into U.S. airports, has deepened persistent confusion about what the future holds for businesses and communities who are entering their 18th month of living with these closures.”

He went on to say how he authorized $100,000 back in July from Washington State’s Strategic Reserve Fund to keep the International Market Place, Point Roberts’ lone grocery store open, when it was on the verge of closing. Since then, the store and other businesses have been impacted by local residents being able to make trips into South Delta for shopping after the Canadian land crossings re-opened back on Aug. 9.

Last month, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced a new “Border Business Relief Program” to provide grants of up to $50,000 to certain businesses impacted by the ongoing closure. Still, Islee wants to know when border towns will see their Canadian customers again.

“These ongoing restrictions are creating real and lasting harms for the citizens of Point Roberts, Washington, which is uniquely situated given its location below the 49th Parallel, as well as communities all along the border whose economies rely on travel and tourism by Canadian travelers,” wrote Inslee.

“As I have communicated in letters to Secretaries Antony Blinken and Alejandro Mayorkas this summer, the harms and economic depredations experienced by these communities grow more dire with each month – and each monthly extension of these blanket restrictions. In British Columbia, 88 percent of people ages 12 and over have received at least one dose, and 80 percent are fully vaccinated. I believe these high rates are a testament to communities on both sides of the border, and I firmly believe that it is within our power to safely ease these restrictions.”