The only grocery store in Point Roberts, Washington, will be forced to close if travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada aren’t lifted by July 15, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Point Roberts Marketplace store owner Ali Hayton said the market relies on shoppers who haven’t been able to visit for more than 15 months and that government assistance did little to help the struggling shop, the AP reported. The store received two loans from federal pandemic relief programs, though the funds were used in a week.
“Now that I see that there is absolutely no end in sight, I can’t do it anymore,” Hayton said, according to the AP. “I cannot financially keep subsidizing all of this by myself.”
Point Roberts has been in crisis because of the ongoing Canada-US border closure for over a year. I’m calling on @SecBlinken to reach an agreement with Canada to exempt Point Roberts residents from current border restrictions & immediately reopen the Boundary Bay Crossing. pic.twitter.com/VJhiZ8xti5
— Rep. Suzan DelBene (@RepDelBene) June 23, 2021
Hayton said she’s lost more than $30,000 a month trying to keep the shop from closing, according to the AP. The store is located on a peninsula and the community’s only access to the U.S. is through Vancouver, Canada. (RELATED: Canadians Crossing US Border Via Helicopter Despite Travel Ban)
“I have put off closing because people depend on me for food. People depend on me for jobs, for medical insurance. It is absolutely the last thing I want to do,” Hayton told the AP. “But once the wells run dry, the wells run dry. I can’t go into debt to try to fix a problem created by these two governments.”
The U.S.lo-Canada border has been closed to nonessential travel since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and Canadian officials extended the restrictions through July 21, according to the AP. Point Roberts community members criticized the regulations in the region since a majority of the people living there are vaccinated.
“Immediate action to open the Boundary Bay Port of Entry needs to be taken for my community,” Point Roberts fire chief Christopher Carleton told the Canadian consul and the Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office Monday, the AP reported. “If no action is taken, you will be responsible for the destruction of an entire US/Washington State community and place Point Roberts into a humanitarian crisis.”
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene asked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to exempt the Point Roberts community from travel restrictions on Wednesday, according to the AP. DelBene and other members of Congress have introduced bills that would provide aid to businesses in northern border communities though they have not been heard by committees.
Point Roberts residents have repeatedly “begged” officials in both countries for help to no avail, local Chamber of Commerce president Brian Calder said, the AP reported. The peninsula “has been reduced to a ghost town” and isn’t a threat to Canadians, Calder said.
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