LOCAL NEWS

Point Roberts loses second tourist season with border closure extension

Aug 20, 2021, 6:13 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2021, 11:12 am
US Canada border Washington, Point Roberts...
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The extension of the U.S. Border closure to Canadians until at least Sept. 21 wipes away the last hope for border communities to have Canadian visitors for some portion of the summer tourist season. And nowhere is it perhaps more devastating than in Point Roberts, which is now going through its second summer without the vast majority of its customer base.

More than 70% of the homes in Point Roberts — which sits on a peninsula accessible only by driving through British Columbia — are the vacation homes of Canadians who can’t get in. Meanwhile, the Canadian border opened to vaccinated Americans earlier this month, allowing Point Roberts residents to take their business to British Columbia.

“It dropped my business another 10%,” said Ali Hayton, who owns Point Roberts’ only grocery store, the International Marketplace. “I mean, I was already losing money, so you take another 10% away?”

That’s on top of the 80% drop in sales that Hayton told KIRO Radio last month she has experienced since the border closed in March 2020.

Criticism for U.S. government as next border decision looms

She does not understand why the United States cannot open just to those Canadians who are vaccinated, as Canada has done with Americans.

“Why can we not show a vaccine record and a negative test to let Canadians come down and help save our communities?” she asked.

It especially makes no sense to her that Canadians are allowed to fly to the United States — which involves being around crowds in the airports and on the plane — but cannot cross the border by themselves in a car.

“They could go to YVR, fly to Sea-Tac, come up to Bellingham, and get a little charter plane — so how many people are they exposed to in that trip versus getting in their car in their driveway and driving across the border?” Hayton said.

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), who has been advocating for months for the border to reopen, posed that same question in a statement, calling the federal government’s decision to keep the border closed “wrong and misguided.”

“Over the past year and a half, we have asked our border communities to put their economies and lives on hold to combat this virus,” she said. “Asking them to wait another month is a lifetime for them.”

She and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) both asked for an immediate exception to be made for Point Roberts, allowing Canadians to travel into the isolated town.

“This is the wrong decision by the administration — there must at the very least be an exemption for Point Roberts as we work to safely reopen the US-Canada border,” Murray said. “I appreciate the administration’s science-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and I firmly believe that the evidence supports a narrow and tailored exception to the administration’s Canadian border closure and a reopening of the Point Roberts port of entry to Canadian travel.”

Hayton is grateful for their advocacy, but she knows that the decision rests with the Biden administration — and she does not have much hope that President Biden even knows where Point Roberts is.

“We’re such a small community. … President Biden has not ever even addressed the issues of the only exclave over there in the state,” she said. “We just don’t matter to him. And it’s very evident that we don’t.”

As she looks ahead at what seems to be a difficult fall and winter ahead, she may have to make tough decisions like cutting her employees’ hours and carrying fewer products for residents.

“Every time I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, there’s just another freight train coming to knock me on my butt again,” Hayton said.

Local News

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
13 hours ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
13 hours ago
Jaime Herrera Beutler...
Nick Bowman

Washington Rep. Herrera Beutler breaks from GOP party line again over Bannon contempt vote

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was among nine Republicans who voted in favor of holding Steve Bannon in contempt on Thursday.
13 hours ago
bellevue...
MyNorthwest Staff

Explosions heard during fire in Bellevue

Several people in Bellevue reported hearing explosions in the area of a large fire Thursday night.
2 days ago
Tacoma shooting...
MyNorthwest Staff

Police search for suspects in Tacoma shooting that left four people dead

Tacoma police say two women and two men were killed in a shooting Thursday.
2 days ago
bike...
Kathryn Altena

King County Board of Health delays vote to repeal bike helmet law

After a public hearing on a proposed repeal of King County's bike helmet law, the county board of health decided to delay their vote.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Point Roberts loses second tourist season with border closure extension