The Canadian Border Services Agency Osoyoos port of entry is still open, after Canada closed its borders for every country except the U.S. (Western News file)

The Canadian Border Services Agency Osoyoos port of entry is still open, after Canada closed its borders for every country except the U.S. (Western News file)

COVID-19: Concerns over open border linger for Osoyoos residents

On Monday, March 16, Canada closed its borders for everyone except Americans

On March 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada would be closing its borders to all travellers who are not Canadians, Americans or permanent residents.

That exception has some people worried.

“I think anybody coming up from the States does concern me,” said Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff. “It’s just changing so quickly. It’s certainly not something any of us are comfortable with.”

READ MORE: B.C. blasts decision to leave Canada-U.S. border open in COVID-19 pandemic

Osoyoos sits on the United States border, and while traffic heading south has dwindled, there are still travellers heading north. According to McKortoff, the travel is driven mostly by Americans seeking to take advantage of the strength of their dollar with shopping.

“I’m not sure how many people are coming over the border, but I do know as a general rule there are people coming across,” said McKortoff. “I know many people in Osoyoos are not going across the line to get gas, or to get cheese.”

The town has enacted multiple policies to keep the risk of the virus spreading as low as possible. On Monday, March 16, they closed down the town’s facilities, as well as consolidated all town customer service into the town hall and planning offices.

“We’re trying to do our best,” said McKortoff. “We have no cases here that we know of, and we’re trying to do anything we can to prevent it. We’ve closed our public facilities, such as our library and our hockey arena.”

READ MORE: Canada to close borders to most foreigners, but not to U.S., to slow spread of COVID-19

Through the ongoing situation, they are encouraging people to avoid gathering in large groups, but not to stop going out entirely.

“We want to encourage common sense,” said McKortoff. “Please support local businesses, we don’t want people to go out of business because they have no customers.”

There is no easy solution to the border issue. While many are calling for it to be closed, there are large amounts of goods that travel through it every day.

“I don’t have an answer. I see the provincial government and federal government are at odds on this issue,” said McKortoff. “I know [Health] Minister Adrian Dix was out saying don’t go across the line and asking people in Washington not to come.”

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