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Canadians still can't visit tiny Point Roberts, and community is losing hope

Michael Chu
via Flickr Creative Commons
About 1,300 people live on Point Roberts, on the tip of a peninsula south of Vancouver, British Columbia, that juts into U.S. territory. It's part of Washington, but separated from the rest of the state.

Point Roberts faces at least another month of isolation after President Joe Biden extended the Canadian border closure last week.

The Washington exclave relies on cross-border business to operate, and Point Roberts’ Fire Chief Christopher Carleton says that the downtown is looking desolate after two seasons of lost tourist traffic.

Now, vaccinated Americans are allowed to travel to Canada and Canadians are still not allowed in the U.S. – straining local businesses even more.

Carleton thinks the ongoing restrictions make little sense. He’s hoping for an exemption to the border closure, so that Point Roberts can start to build back what they’ve lost over the course of the pandemic.

"People have stopped hoping at this point. Realistically, I don't think we plan on the border opening for even the rest of the year. That’s where the sentiment is right now in our community,” Carleton said. “I think it’s very wrong for the administration to put hope into American citizens at 30-day intervals when they’ve done nothing.”

For many residents, the ongoing restrictions don’t make sense.

"If fully vaccinated travelers can come in by air, then why can’t they come in by land?” Carleton wondered.

Carleton hopes the Biden administration will create an exemption to the border closure. Otherwise, he worries that things will only get worse.

Esmy Jimenez / KUOW. Created with datamapper