Summertime in B.C. brings with it many things, among them: American tourists.
This year, COVID-19 has scuttled travel ambitions; however, some American licence plates will still be seen on B.C. highways. It’s hard not to feel a tinge of annoyance at the sight of a California licence plate, but there could be more than meets the eye with Americans travelling in Canada.
Until at least July 21, all non-essential travel from the U.S. into Canada is restricted. According to guidelines from the government of Canada, travellers who are exempt from the restrictions include individuals such as temporary foreign workers, immediate family members, some international students, approved permanent residents, individuals providing essential services, and individuals in transit.
Recently, American travellers have made headlines for stopping at destinations within Canada on their way to Alaska.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has expressed concern about Americans apparently flouting travel restrictions.
“Outbreaks in Washington state, California, Arizona, Texas are absolutely unacceptable. We have to maintain our border security so we can protect the progress we’ve made here in British Columbia,” he said.
‘Absolutely unacceptable’ is one way to describe it.
As of Monday, July 6, America has recorded 2.8 million cases of COVID-19, and 129,811 deaths. In Arizona, confirmed cases surpassed 105,000. In Texas, confirmed cases have reached 210,000. In California, confirmed cases have reached 278,000.
For reference, there are 106,000 confirmed cases in all of Canada.
Clearly, it is imperative to keep the border closed to Americans until their country gets a handle on COVID-19 transmission. The current July 21 date for the resumption of travel between America and Canada is far too soon. It would be an ‘absolutely unacceptable’ tragedy if all the sacrifice British Columbians have made to fight COVID-19 was wasted so that American tourists could visit our beautiful province.
That said, if you see an American in B.C., it’s also unacceptable to project belligerence and prejudice. It’s possible the vehicle with an American licence plate belongs to a Canadian citizen. Perhaps it is an American citizen who is deemed safe to travel and is providing an essential service in this country.
Whatever the case, merely seeing a U.S. plate is not enough information to determine someone’s situation.
We have to put faith in our public health officials, and trust that our governments are making the right call when it comes to allowing foreign visitors into Canada.
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