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Point Roberts wants to share excess vaccine supply with Canadian neighbors

The Point Roberts Fire Chief is asking that Canadians be let into the small town to take advantage of their excess supply of vaccines.

POINT ROBERTS, Wash. — After a successful vaccination rollout, the small town of Point Roberts, Washington, is asking elected officials to share their excess supply with their Canadian neighbors.

Point Roberts is surrounded by water on three sides and shares its only land border with Canada. The small town has been isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to extended border closures between the two countries. 

The only way to get supplies is by taking the ferry across the Strait of Georgia or driving 25 miles through Canada without stopping to get to Whatcom County.  

The Point Roberts Fire Chief Christopher Carleton wrote a letter to U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray asking them to consider offering Point Roberts as a vaccination location for Americans living in British Columbia as well as nearby Canadians.

"There are thousands of Americans in the lower mainland of British Columbia who, if allowed, could be vaccinated here in Point Roberts. This could be extended to Canadians as an international cooperative, helping an ally," Carleton wrote.

Nearly 70% of the Point Roberts population is vaccinated, and now they have an excess supply. Carleton said Point Roberts would be an ideal vaccination spot for Canadians due to its isolation from the rest of the United States. 

"As you know, Point Roberts does not provide open access to the rest of our country, but would allow more direct vaccination ability for our northern neighbors, while also supporting our local economy," Carleton wrote.

Point Roberts was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses in the town relied heavily on visiting Canadians. The Point Roberts Marketplace, the only grocery store in town, was used to getting 6,000 to 8,000 customers a week. During the pandemic, owners say they're lucky to see 1,500 pass through the store. 

Before Point Roberts can share their supply, Canada will first have to relax rules about quarantining after crossing the border. Travelers entering or returning to Canada must quarantine for a minimum of 14 days upon arrival.

"Point Roberts is willing and anxious to serve our northern friends," Carleton wrote. "Help us forge a path for my community in our extended hand by providing a safe and controlled entrance for vaccination of our northern neighbors."