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State leaders ‘deeply disappointed’ by decision to extend US/Canada border closure

The U.S./Canada border crossing in Blaine, Washington. (Jasperdo, Flickr Creative Commons)

The United States is extending a ban on non-essential travel from Canada into the U.S. until at least Aug. 21, 2021, with Washington state leaders expressing their frustration.

That decision came down Wednesday from the Department of Homeland Security, despite Canada’s decision to allow Americans to travel north starting Aug. 9, as long as they can prove they’re fully vaccinated and have had a negative COVID test.

So while vaccinated Americans may be able to begin traveling to Canada in a few weeks time, Canadians, vaccinated or not, will not be allowed to come to the United States for at least another month. The extension could, however, be amended or rescinded prior to Aug. 21.

Point Roberts’ fire chief says all town’s businesses on verge of ruin

Local leaders in Washington have been urging the U.S. and Canada to reopen the border for weeks now, with Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Suzan DelBene each writing letters to officials for both countries.

Commenting on the decision from the United States to extend its ban on non-essential travel Wednesday, DelBene continued to express her frustration over the closure.

“I’m deeply disappointed in the Biden administration’s decision to unilaterally extend the Canada-U.S. border closure another month,” she said on Twitter. “This means further suffering in our border communities in Whatcom County and elsewhere.”

Gov. Inslee echoed that sentiment as well, stating that he is “extremely disappointed,” and that “the time has come to at least partially reopen the U.S.-Canada border.”

The economic impact of the closure has been especially prominent for the Whatcom County town of Point Roberts, where residents have go through Canada in order to travel to and from the rest of Washington state.

In late June, the owner of the town’s only grocery store, Ali Hayton, intimated that she would likely be forced to close without the easing of border restrictions. Point Roberts Fire Chief Christopher Carleton further warned that many of the town’s other businesses are on the verge of ruin.

Washington Senator Patty Murray expressed support for Point Roberts on Wednesday, as well as her frustration with the federal government.

“This is a frustrating and disappointing decision by the Biden administration that puts the border communities in Washington state, especially Point Roberts, in an absolutely untenable position,” she said in a written release. “These communities rely on cross border travel, and after more than sixteen months many businesses are on the brink of shutting their doors for good, which would be absolutely devastating for these communities.”

Murray went on to call for an emergency exemption for Point Roberts residents regarding ongoing border restrictions, pointing to the need for an urgent resolution to the town’s struggles.

The U.S./Canadian border has been closed to all non-essential travel for more than a year, since March 2020, to limit the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the closure has been extended one month at a time.

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