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Point Roberts residents get exemption to testing rule for essential travel

Last Updated Feb 18, 2021 at 12:46 pm PST

FILE - Point Roberts is seen here from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol in the summer of 2019. (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Washington state has secured an exemption to testing, quarantine rule for Point Roberts residents

Point Roberts residents who need to cross border for essential reasons won't have to show proof of negative COVID test

Chamber of Commerce says exemption will help people in Point Roberts, but community needs more support

POINT ROBERTS (NEWS 1130) – Washington state has secured an exemption to new testing requirements at the Canada-U.S. land border, providing a small bit of relief for the roughly 1,100 people who call Point Roberts home.

Point Roberts residents won’t have to take a COVID-19 test in Canada or the U.S. when they are crossing for essential purposes. That means these people can get to work or school in Blaine without having to adhere to the recently announced travel measures by the Canadian government.

“The biggest thing to me is finally, finally, finally there’s some recognition that Point Roberts is unique,” explains Brian Calder with the local Chamber of Commerce. “Seventy-five per cent of the properties here are owned by Canadians — 75 per cent.”

However, anyone who wants to enter Canada from the pene-enclave for any reason deemed unessential will have to go through the quarantine process.

“If we come and claim, ‘Well we’ve got Canadian status, you can’t deny us,’ they can say, ‘Yes, but we can and will lock you down for 14 days,'” he explains.

While he believes the exemption will provide a little bit of relief to the people living there, Calder says the community is still in need of a lot more support.

“You should see it here. I mean, it’s an absolute ghost town,” he tells NEWS 1130. “If the movie business ever wanted to do a ghost town, we’re the biggest candidate they can have because they wouldn’t have to pay anyone to move. They’re already out of here.”

Calder is taking some comfort in Governor Jay Inslee’s statement Wednesday, which acknowledged the unique challenges facing Point Roberts.

The Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to all non-essential traffic. Some exemptions do apply.

This restriction has been in place since March of last year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new travel measures on Jan. 29. Showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test, which was a requirement already in place for international travellers to Canada by air, came into effect at the land border on Feb. 15.