Washington's border towns are struggling as crossings remain closed to Canadians

King 5

Things are quiet at Hakam Singh's gas station and convenience store in the border town of Sumas - way too quiet.

"This business can't survive. Not even another month," Singh said.

This is the 16th consecutive month the U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel from Canada. Canadian visitors come to border towns like Sumas to buy staples like gas and milk because it's much cheaper in the U.S. In 2020, restaurant sales were down 26% in Whatcom County, the same for clothing. Lodging receipts were off 46%. Canadians bring more that $150 million to Whatcom County every year.

Last year, the United States and Canada drew up a "road map" for reopening where the two countries pledged to "work closely together" and take a "coordinated approach" to get people flowing across the border once again.

"Unlike Canada, the US has not developed a system to use at the border to screen for travelers' health information," Trautman said. "We couldn't open the border tomorrow to just healthy travelers, we'd be opening to all travelers. That's obviously problematic with the new delta variant."


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Wednesday, August 11, 2021 - 11:36am