BELLINGHAM — Canadians still overwhelmingly want to see the border with the U.S. remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic, and British Columbia’s top doctor says she doesn’t expect any cross-border vacation traffic to be allowed this summer.
The border between the two countries was closed to all non-essential travel for 30 days on March 21 in an effort to stop the transmission of COVID-19. That closure has been extended a month at a time, and is currently set to expire on July 21.
But, if most Canadians have their way, it will stay closed even longer.
The Toronto Globe and Mail reported last week that a Nanos Research survey asked Canadian residents if they felt the border should open to non-essential travel or if they would prefer to see it stay closed for the forseeable future.
Of those polled, 81% said the border should stay closed, 14% said it should open now for areas where transmission rates are low and 3% said it should open immediately, with 2% saying they were unsure.
“The response is actually quite surprising considering we are a border country that relies on the United States for our livelihood ... (it) suggests that Canadians have a very high level of anxiety about what’s happening in the pandemic in the United States,” Pollster Nik Nanos told the Globe and Mail.
And it’s hard to blame Canadians for wanting to keep Americans out.
As of Friday, Johns Hopkins University was reporting more than a quarter of the 12.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide were in the United States and nearly a quarter of the 557,000-plus deaths worldwide linked to the illness are Americans.
British Columbia has seen 3,028 cases and 186 deaths during the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins — or 10% the 38,581 cases and 1,409 death the Washington State Department of Health reported as of Wednesday, July 8.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said British Columbia is “very concerned” about the number of cases the U.S. is seeing and said it was unlikely there would be any summer vacation travel between the two countries, according to a story by CTV News.
Henry, the provincial health officer for British Columbia, and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix made the comments at a briefing on July 7, CTV reported.
“It’s important to remember it’s not just the issue of people visiting Canada,” Dix said, according to CTV. “It’s Canadians visiting the United States that would not be possible at this point.”
In fact, Henry said in last week’s briefing that she was unaware of any B.C. cases that were the result of U.S. travelers in the province.
On July 8, the Canadian Border Services Agency reminded Canadians in a tweet that “there may be a legitimate reason for the presence ... of United States plated vehicles/vessels ... Canada such as essential workers, immediate family members, returning ... Canada residents or transiting individuals going home.”