Canadians are now allowed to cross into the U.S. for short visits and return home without being required to take a PCR test. However, the change in regulations seems, so far, to have had limited impact on the number of people entering the U.S. via South Surrey.
Earlier this month, the federal government said that as of Nov. 30, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who are visiting the U.S. for less than 72 hours won’t need a costly molecular test for COVID-19 in order to return home.
The Public Health Agency of Canada also said that travellers who received the Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin vaccines will be considered fully vaccinated for travel purposes.
Critics in both countries have been complaining for weeks about the need for a PCR test, which can cost between $150-$300 per swab, saying it’s a major deterrent to the resumption of cross-border travel.
However, according to images from a DriveBC camera pointed at the southbound lane at the Douglas (Peace Arch) crossing, very few Canadians took advantage of the relaxed regulations on Tuesday.
Despite gas-rationing measures on this side of the border, whether it’s due to lack of interest, concerns about a new COVID-19 variant, rainy weather, or it being mid-week, few, if any, people were lined up waiting to head south.
Mike Hill, who owns Hill’s Chevron and Gift Shoppe in Blaine, said he hasn’t noticed a wave of Canadians heading south to buy essentials like fuel and groceries.
Hill also sits as a councillor for City of Blaine.
He agreed that it may take time for Semiahmoo Peninsula residents and others in the Lower Mainland to get back into the cross-border shopping habit.
“It’s going to take a little while – the weekend will be a little better test of whether things have changed, once people start talking and comparing notes about going over the border,” Hill told Peace Arch News.
“We’ve been waiting for this day – except we didn’t really know this day would come,” he added.
– with files from Canadian Press