WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Today, Friday, April 1st, marks the first day that the requirement for pre-entry COVID-19 test has been lifted for vaccinated travelers entering Canada. It has been hoped this would remove most remaining hesitations shoppers from Canada may have for returning to Whatcom County stores.
While being fully vaccinated remains a requirement for entering or re-entering Canada, using the pre-recording process, ArriveCan, also remains. According to officials in Canada, this is likely to remain a permanent border crossing requirement, extending beyond the pandemic.
On March 21, 2020, the US-Canada border shut down for all non-essential travel. Last August, the border reopened to Americans and Canadians returning from visits to the US, but only for fully vaccinated travelers with recent negative COVID tests. These requirements still prevented many from crossing the border.
In addition to obvious business impacts, families with members on both sides of the border have had to endure not being able to spend time together and care for family members in need. Property owners have also been unable to visit and maintain properties on the other side of the border.
DriveBC.ca reported 20-minute waits southbound at the Peace Arch and Pacific Highway border crossings about noon today.
While many Whatcom County businesses are hopeful to see a return to pre-pandemic volumes of Canadian shoppers, many, including Ferndale Grocery Outlet Owner Larry Brown, are expecting this to be a process that will take time.
Brown said he was happy to see several familiar Canadian customers that he had not seen since the initial border closure om 2020. “There were hugs and handshakes,” Brown said. But he also said, there has not been, nor did he expect a surge of returning Canadian shoppers. “This will likely take some time.”
Traffic northbound into Canada was reported to be facing 50- to 55-minute waits at the Peace Arch and Pacific Highway crossings about noon today.