Point Roberts is one community that continues to struggle right now as Canadians are still prevented from going down for non-essential travel.
Point Roberts is an area that relies on those Canadian tourists coming in to Point Roberts, thousands of them regularly come visit each year.
Those tourists are fueling a lot of economic activity that is now missing from the region. As a result, there are a number of small businesses that have had to close down their shops. The Canadian border closure with the U.S. has effectively turned areas like Point Roberts into a ghost town of sorts.
Point Roberts Missing Another Summer Of Tourism
Point Roberts is an interesting territory as this is a small U.S. town that sits roughly 20 miles south of Vancouver on the tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula. When the pandemic shut the border down this meant that Point Roberts along with other border towns that heavily rely on tourism, would see a severe economic decline as a result.
If they cannot bring those tourists in to the region to bring that support then that means that two summers would have been lost for the region. Some in Point Roberts have expressed their frustration with the U.S. government in not considering a special case for Point Roberts as it is a highly isolated region unlike other U.S. border towns.
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, has recently criticized the decision not to reciprocate lifting those border restrictions to Canadians, calling it a move that is short-sighted and devastating to those Washington border towns like Point Roberts.
For now the U.S. land border is expected to remain closed to non-essential travel at least until Aug. 21 of this year.
For one business owner in Point Roberts who is running a grocery store she admits that this missed summer of tourism might mean a final blow and her having to close up for good. It is a story we have seen with many small businesses over the last year.
80% of Businesses Lost in Point Roberts
So far already 80% of the businesses in Point Roberts have been closed because of the pandemic and border closure that came along with it. Hundreds of residents have also decided to leave.
Point Roberts is a region that is highly dependent on Canada and if those Canadian tourists are prevented from travel to Point Roberts then that is going to have a huge impact on the region. This is what we have witnessed unfold since the Canadian border has been closed to non-essential travel.
Canada recently announced plans for a reopening of the border to some, with even more border restrictions expected to start being eased later in the fall, but the same isn’t coming from the U.S. for now.
The reluctance to make those changes so far has surprised some in Point Roberts who say the government should give Point Roberts special treatment in this circumstance because it could mean further downfall of this community.
Long Road to Recovery in Point Roberts
The closure has had a severe impact on border towns that rely on that tourism. In Point Roberts they have seen at least 80% of their businesses close already and even if things were to open up it is still a long road to recovery. It could take years to fully recover from the damage that has been inflicted from the pandemic.
The idea of using Point Roberts as a testing area to ease travel restrictions around the U.S. – Canada border has also previously been floated. The idea to use this community as a travel testing ground came about because of the unique geography of the region as well as the high vaccination rate in the area.
As far as using Point Roberts as a test space though is one idea that hasn’t been implemented. We will have to wait and see when U.S. officials decide to do the same and ease their land border restrictions over non-essential travel just the same and that sort of border easing could be coming on Aug 21, when the current restrictions are expected to expire.