As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Campbell River RCMP are urging people to be calm and kind when they see a vehicle with U.S. license plates.

Campbell River RCMP issued a press release stating that there continues to be “furor and fear” online regarding American license plates in the community and the rest of Canada.

As a result, the detachment is reminding residents to be calm and kind when they see a U.S. vehicle. They are also reminding residents that there is an “overabundance” of snowbirds who live on Vancouver Island but also reside in places such as Palm Springs, Calif., Scottsdale., Ariz., Tampa, Fla., and Galveston, Texas.

“When COVID struck hard back in March 2020, many of these people found themselves stranded in the United States with the only way to return being in their cars that were registered in those states. Add to that the extra difficulty of insuring your B.C. vehicle with insurance offices closed, and these folks have continued to drive their American insured vehicles,” Campbell River RCMP said in the release.

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Canadians working in the U.S. have also returned home and in some cases, according to the Campbell River RCMP, there are some people in the community who have family visiting them from the U.S. for a variety of reasons.

“Some reasons officers have heard are helping care for a new grandchild, the COVID risk in the states means it’s safer to stay put, the ongoing protests and political climate in the states means it’s safer to stay put,” the release said, noting that those Americans who are in the community visiting family have been in Campbell River since March.

Campbell River Const. Maury Tyre also said there have been cases of Americans in the community being harassed by residents.

I personally talked to a very nice elderly couple from town while I had my dog at the vet a couple weeks ago and they were already being hassled by people who did not know their story, simply because they had a California plate on their car,” Tyre said in the release.

“We are seeing actions being taken by some that can border on criminal harassment, just because somebody has an out of country or out of province license plate or a little bit of an accent. I recognize that people are on edge, scared or frustrated, but harassing actions and stirring up a frenzy are just not acceptable and are entirely contrary to the well being of a civil society,” he added.

Campbell River RCMP say if residents believe there is a “suspicious American” that they feel they must report, they should call the Canada Border Service Agency. They also said there will be people who break the rules regardless.

“Are they people who would break travel restrictions?” Tyre added. “Of course, as long as there are rules there will be people breaking them, it’s a simple reality. If people are found to be purposefully breaking those rules then they will be dealt with according to law.”

ALSO READ: Sightings of American travellers on Vancouver Island raises concerns

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