Eligible British Columbians can now take short shopping trips to the United States and return home without having to take a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test, according to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
In a Wednesday news release, CBSA said testing will be waived for fully vaccinated B.C. residents who have to travel to the U.S. to access or buy goods and who are only out of Canada for less than 24 hours.
The exemption also applies to a person with a contraindication to vaccination and unvaccinated children under 12 years of age entering B.C. with one of their fully vaccinated parents, step-parents, guardians or tutors.
Anyone who makes social visits or attends events or functions while in the U.S. is not exempt.
The decision comes in the wake of mid-November flooding that hampered supply chains and washed out highways in British Columbia.
Border community exemptions
Unrelated to the flooding events, the federal government also allows fully vaccinated people entering Canada from the specific border communities of Hyder, Alaska, Northwest Angle, Minnesota or Point Roberts, Washington, to come into the country without doing a COVID-19 molecular test.
Both Hyder and Point Roberts are along the border of British Columbia.
According to an order in council from the Canadian government, habitual residents of Northwest Angle and Point Roberts entering Canada to access the mainland U.S. or to return to their place of residence are also exempt from testing.
So too are habitual residents of Hyder, Northwest Angle and Point Roberts entering Canada to carry out everyday functions with neighbouring communities as long as they do not travel elsewhere.
There is no 24-hour limit identified in this order and it is unique to these communities and their residents.
Brian Calder, president of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the news.
The town depends on Canadian dollars to keep its economy afloat, and 75 per cent of properties on the peninsula are Canadian-owned.
"It's a blessing for our community," said Calder, adding Point Roberts residents are very COVID-aware.
According to Calder, Canadians can also come into Point Roberts now without time constraints and without having to test when leaving.
"They can stay anywhere from an hour to a week or whatever and on the return ... they don't have to be tested."