Sightings of American travellers on Vancouver Island raises concerns

Sightings of American travellers on Vancouver Island raises concerns
WatchAs U.S. COVID-19 infections set record highs, there is growing anxiety about American travellers being spotted here on Vancouver Island. At French Creek the arrival of Washington state visitors caused alarm Friday and as Skye Ryan reports, people are now watching license plates closely.

Merle Graff watched on nervously Saturday, as faces and boats that he didn’t recognize turned up at French Creek.

“I just stay away from people,” he told CHEK.

In the midst of the pandemic, the Parksville man is one of many worried about the few but noticeable American arrivals that have been turning heads lately.

“There’s many more cases in the United States than there is here . . .  and I really don’t think they should open the borders to them at all,” said the retired fisherman, adding. “Whether they’re traveling to Alaska or not. A lot of people come by boat,” he said.

On Friday, a vehicle with Washington license plates was seen parked at the French Creek Harbour Store and according to Cameron Wheatley, a co-owner of the French Creek Harbour Store, many were shocked to see the occupants of the vehicle walk into the pub.

“About four or five people here were really questioning why on earth there would be a Washington plate here,” said Wheatley, a co-owner of the French Creek Harbour Store.

The store’s owners called RCMP for direction but were then told to call the health authority and in the end Wheatley said they just got the run-around.

Since healthy, non-symptomatic Americans going home to Alaska have been allowed to cross into Canada.
Wheatley said he has already seen people from Washington State, Texas, and California arrive in French Creek.

“Oh yeah we’ve seen a few Americans through here that have been on boats,” said Wheatley. “And we have heard of some showing up in Campbell River as well.”

The concern is that the visiting Americans are possibly infected with COVID-19 and are hoping off their boats and going shopping in local stores, potentially spreading the virus.

“It’s a concern. It really is,” said Wheatley.

However, those Americans stopping for unnecessary reasons in Canada would be violating Canadian rules.

According to Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. travellers are urged not to make any unnecessary stops, to remain in their vehicles as much as possible, pay at the pump if they need gas, and use drive thru’s if they’re hungry.

Measures to reduce interactions and alarm, but on this first big weekend of summer don’t seem to be reducing the anxiety about U.S. travellers transiting through.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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