Lined up in the parking lot of a Squamish grocery store are three vehicles with U.S. licence plates, says a local who has phoned The Chief concerned.
On the road up to Cat Lake, a truck with Washington State plates bumps by on the dirt road. A camper parked along the Mamquam River is overheard saying he is visiting from California.
These scenes are being repeated around town as headlines read of the 2.5 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S and of a few American visitors who were allowed into Canada saying they were headed home to Alaska, but then who travelled as tourists to other locations instead.
These incidents are troubling to many in Squamish who had begun to exhale in relief at the drop in B.C. COVID numbers.
The rules are clear. “Travel to Canada for discretionary reasons (non-essential), such as for tourism, recreation, or entertainment is currently prohibited. Unless exempted, if you do not have a non-discretionary (essential) reason to travel to Canada, a border services officer will deny you entry.
If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you will not be permitted to enter Canada, regardless of your reason for travel,” reads the Canada Border Services Agency website.
On, June 16, these restrictions were extended until July 21.
And ICBC clearly states that if you are moving to B.C. you have 30 days to register, license, and insure your vehicle after arriving, so people who were already here pre-pandemic should have switched over to our plates.
But there are exceptions that could mean Americans are here, but safe, as someone from Utah pointed out to The Chief on Instagram.
People can be here touring for up to six months and there is an exemption for foreign students.
We need to strike a balance, always. Being vigilantes and confronting visitors, giving them the middle finger or just being rude — as seen online in other places — is not our best approach.
Like it or not, Squamish is dependent on tourism.
Without industry, tourism is now our lifeblood. Without it, more businesses will close.
Because we can’t be sure that what we are seeing is a violation and because we want to behave decently and kindly, regardless, it is best to let the authorities deal with any out of province or country sightings.
Concerned citizens can call Squamish RCMP non-emergency line: 604-892-6100.
Anyone with information on suspicious cross-border activities can call the CBSA Border Watch Line (1-888-502-9060).
For those of us wanting to get out of Dodge and head to parts less well known, the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable has created an interactive map that shows Canadians where they can go and what restrictions might be in place. Check it out. Hopefully, the residents there will be friendly to our arrival.