Advertisement

Frequent weddings in cross-border Peace Arch Park spur COVID-19 concerns

Click to play video 'Concerns raised over trans-border weddings in Washington state’s Peace Arch Park' Concerns raised over trans-border weddings in Washington state’s Peace Arch Park
Concerns raised over trans-border weddings in Washington state's Peace Arch Park

A South Surrey resident is raising concerns about weddings taking place in the cross-border Peach Arch Park amid COVID-19.

Andy Johnston, who lives across from the park that straddles the border between B.C. and Washington state, said weddings and other large gatherings have become more frequent.

The Canadian side of the park was closed on June 18, but Canadians are still free to enter the U.S. side without going through a border crossing.

Read more: Coronavirus: Peace Arch Provincial Park to close again due to spike in visitors

“I think British Columbians are doing a good job and trying hard to follow (provincial health officer Dr.) Bonnie Henry’s lead … but when they get to the park they seem to think that the rules don’t apply to anybody,” Johnston told Global News, Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

“The hugging and hand-shaking, the mixing of Americans and Canadians together … my concern is that people come back to Canada and don’t isolate, and go into the stores that I might be in.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Washington state Park Ranger Rick Blank said the park is seeing anywhere from 10 to 20 weddings per week, along with birthday parties, anniversaries and other family gatherings.

Click to play video 'Canadians and Americans find loophole in closure of Peace Arch Park' Canadians and Americans find loophole in closure of Peace Arch Park
Canadians and Americans find loophole in closure of Peace Arch Park

Rangers have been taking an educational approach to Washington’s Phase 2 pandemic regulations, which limit people to gathering with no more than five people outside their household per week, said Blank.

“We are talking to folks, but folks to do not follow that,” he said.

“It’s up for the visitor to go ahead and follow the rules. At this time there is no enforcement, there’s been no citations issued or anything like that.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Canada-U.S. couple ties the knot at B.C.’s border-straddling Peace Arch Park

Blank said he is not aware of any cases of cross-border transmission linked to gatherings in the park.

Global News has requested data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on whether exposures or case clusters were linked to the park this summer.

Global News has also requested comment from the Surrey RCMP on how it handles Canadian visitors returning from the state park.