The picturesque seaside community of Point Roberts in Washington relies heavily on Canadian tourists and travelers to bring business to the community. The pandemic has caused many businesses in the community to close. Kris Van Cleave has the story.
- A decision to reopen the long closed US Canadian border is expected this week for isolated Point Roberts, Washington sitting just below the 49th parallel. An open border can't come fast enough. Here's CBS's Kris Van Cleave.
- Even getting to Point Roberts, Washington is a challenge. We had to charter a boat to reach the five square mile Peninsula attached only to Canada. That's because the only other way in by car is largely closed off to Americans.
- Now, it's more-- I hate to say it. --more like being in jail without committing a crime.
- Resident, Gayle Kendall, works at the only grocery store in town. One of the few businesses still open.
- I worry about, are we bringing in enough money? And if we can't bring up enough money, I'm not high up enough on the totem pole that, I think, I'll have a job.
- Grocery stores have flourished during the pandemic, but not the International Marketplace. It's 40,000 square feet are built to handle thousands of Canadian's shopping weekly for cheaper staples, like milk and eggs. Owner, Ali Hayton, says, she's now operating at a loss.
- We need the Canadians to be able to come down here for us to survive. I'm not planning on closing my doors. I've got too many people that depend on us to be here.
- Heading into the summer, this picturesque, seaside community would be about to quadruple its population thanks to vacationing Canadians. But residents, now, worry about missing a second tourist season. Brian Calder runs the Chamber of Commerce.
- It was devastated. it has been for a year. 90% of our economy is driven by Canadians, not Americans, and they're cut off from here.
- Before COVID, we wouldn't be able to stand in this road, because the border crossing would be busy with traffic. But the border to Canada is closed to non-essential travel. What defines essential depends on who you talk to and if those border guards agree.
There's no full time doctor, veterinarian, or pharmacy in Point Roberts. If residents get through the border, they still face a mandatory quarantine. That's time Gayle Kendall didn't have when her father died in Canada.
- I don't have five, six weeks to go do something that should have been essential. That's the part that nobody gets. We are trapped.
- Locked down by COVID restrictions in a place that's had just one case since last March. Kris Van Cleave, CBS News, Point Roberts, Washington.