The U.S. congresswoman representing Blaine, Point Roberts and many other Washington state border communities says she is “deeply disappointed” in the Biden administration’s decision to unilaterally extend the Canada-U.S. border closure another month.
Suzan DelBene, a Democrat representing Washington’s 1st district, said the decision is “short-sighted and devastating to our border communities.”
“Businesses and families in Whatcom County, particularly in Point Roberts, were praying this was the month the border would reopen. Continuing the border closure all but ensures more businesses will close and more livelihoods will be destroyed along the border,” DelBene said.
“Right now, Canadians can fly from Vancouver to Seattle, but residents in the border town of White Rock cannot drive the short distance south across the border to Blaine. Instead of helping them build back better, we’re putting our border communities at a significant disadvantage.”
The land border between the United States and Canada has been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, Canadian officials announced plans to allow fully vaccinated Americans to enter the country for recreational reasons starting on Aug. 9.
However, the restriction on Canadian travellers entering the U.S. for recreational reasons has been extended until at least Aug. 21.
“Canada, on the other hand, is showing leadership by announcing it will begin easing border restrictions … and providing firm benchmarks and metrics behind their decision,” DelBene said.
“It’s time for the U.S. to reopen the Canada-U.S. border.”
The Peace Arch border crossing between Surrey and Blaine is one of the busiest crossings between the two countries for non-essential travel.
In Washington state, 60.9 per cent of people aged 12 and up have been fully immunized, compared to 55.6 per cent in B.C.
B.C. Premier John Horgan said the federal government is responsible for the borders, and doubts that a lot of Canadians want to go south.
“There are more vaccinations in Canada than there (are) in the U.S. Based on my experience talking to people, looking at opinion research, I rather doubt that people will be lining up in large numbers to travel south until they feel confident that the pandemic is well and truly behind us,” Horgan said.
“If there is not an overlap on border restrictions between Canada and the U.S., there’s really little I can do about that other than encourage people, as I have been for months, to stay home, go local, go to those attractions and those destinations that are often crowded with American tourists. Take advantage of that and see your backyard.”