Cars line up to enter the U.S. from Canada at the Peace Arch border. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Lifting of pre-entry test for Canada no big business boon to Blaine

April 1 relaxation of regulations provided only moderate increase in Canadian shoppers

The lifting of the pre-entry test for travellers returning to Canada hasn’t led to an immediate cross-border shopping boom for Blaine, Wa.

That’s the word from Hill’s Chevron Food Mart and Gift Shoppe, where the business of owners Skye and Mike Hill (also a Blaine council member) has provided a barometer for Canadian cross-border shopping patterns.

As of Friday (April 1) fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to provide a negative pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada by air, land or water.

And while that led to a temporary uptick of Canadians crossing the border to pick up packages held for them at mail box operations during COVID-19 restrictions – and an increase of visits to such businesses as Hill’s Chevron – a continuing business boost has not materialized.

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Skye Hill told Peace Arch News Monday that while business had been brisk Friday and Saturday, it had dropped off considerably by Sunday and Monday.

A further check with Hill’s on Tuesday confirmed that business was “definitely pretty slow.”

“I’d say it was up around 30 per cent on the weekend,” Skye said.

“It wasn’t what we were hoping for, but I guess it’s going to take time for people to get back into feeling safe crossing the border,” she added.

Traditionally, Blaine businesses have relied on Canadians seeking cheaper gas and grocery goods across the border, but the closing of the border due to COVID-19 shut trade down for some 20 months.

Even relaxation of regulations in November, in which the U.S. allowed non-essential travellers in – and Canadians were allowed to cross into the U.S. for short visits and return home without being required to take a PCR test – failed to produce a significant bonanza.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed – (cross-border) business has been dead for the last two years,” Skye said.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

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