Hope on horizon for struggling Point Roberts community with US/Canada border set to reopen
After more than a year and a half, the United States will finally be reopening its land border with Canada, providing hope for struggling communities like Point Roberts.
Washington state officials have been petitioning the Biden administration to reopen the border for months now. That’s largely been driven by concerns over Point Roberts, a small Washington town accessible on land only by going through British Columbia.
The 19-month closure of nonessential travel across the border has kept the town’s businesses deprived of its Canadian customer-base, which makes up 85% of its annual revenue. Point Roberts residents and business owners have said that many of the town’s shops, restaurants, and other small businesses have closed — and those that remain open are teetering on the brink. Ali Hayton, the owner of the town’s only grocery store, told KIRO Radio earlier this year that she has been losing $30,000 each month.
With the border now scheduled to reopen for nonessential travel in November, though, relief could very well be on the way. Those crossing will need to have received a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. That would include the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is widely used throughout Canada.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray — who’s been critical of the extended closure — praised the move on Tuesday, calling it “great news for our border communities in (Washington) state.”
“After pushing on this for months, I’m glad to see the safe reopening of the US-Canada border,” she wrote on Twitter.
Fellow Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell was similarly supportive of the reopening as well.
“This announcement will provide great relief to those waiting to see friends and loved ones from Canada, and to businesses in Point Roberts and other northern cities and towns hurting due to the decline in Canadian tourism,” she said in a written release.
Murray also expressed that while “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she remains “frustrated that a border exemption was not provided for Point Roberts.”
“It’s clear that more must be done to make this community whole — and I will do everything in my power to support Point Roberts,” she added.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement on the reopening of the border as well, saying he is “pleased to hear this may finally happen in early November.”
“It should have happened sooner,” he continued. “Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and Canadians were already allowed to travel to the U.S. by air throughout the pandemic.”
KIRO Radio reporter Nicole Jennings contributed to this story.