The United States has pretty much botched the response to the COVID-19 pandemic at every turn, which has inspired some Americans to head for greener pastures...namely Canada. But so many Americans are trying to sneak their way over the Canadian border that it's become a problem.
NPR reports that the U.S. and Canada shut their shared border to "all nonessential traffic" back in March. But since then, "caravans of Americans" have had to be prevented from "surging across the border."
People in RVs and campers cross the border for summer trips every year, but this one, of course, is different! The COVID-19 pandemic rages on, pretty much unchecked in the United States, and there are very few places that we can travel these days.
Canada is not one of them! But some U.S. citizens have used something called the "Alaska loophole" to sneak their way into Canada anyway. They tell border patrol officers that they are on their way to Alaska, and then they simply...don't go.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have fined several Americans who were hiking near Lake Louise, which is not even on the way to Canada. So Canada has officially announced that it will be cracking down on Americans who try to sneak their way in.
One of the sneaky ways in which Americans are funneling over the border is by boat. Lots of people are coming from the U.S. and crossing the Canadian border in their luxury yacht or sailboat.
International maritime law mandates that every passenger ship but have an "automatic identification system" that should remain on at all times. It allows ships to be tracked in real time in order to prevent collisions and bad weather.
But these systems also make it very easy for anyone with an internet connection to see where these ships are coming from, and a ton are coming from the U.S. George Creek, president of BC Marine Parks Forever, said that people have begun to wise up to this tracking system and have turned off their transponders as they cross the border.
"We see them on the computer, and at a particular point a few minutes later, they're not there anymore," he says. Sneaky, sure, but also irresponsible and disrespectful!
Many Canadians are concerned that Americans' "flagrant disregard for mask-wearing and maintaining safe social distance" has been causing the virus to spread rapidly through the U.S. mainland and that Americans could easily spread the virus into Canada even more if they continue to make their way over the border.
"When I call the U.S. the biggest petri dish in the world, that was not just off the cuff," Creek said. He is particularly concerned about small, isolated boating communities where there are many First Nations people and very few medical facilities. Boaters often stop in these communities to fuel up, and it seems that boats from the U.S. are no exception.
A large U.S. yacht recently stopped at one of these communities. Creek said, "They wandered the dock. Three or four adults and the rest were teenagers with no social distancing, no masks, and went through the store as if they were just shopping at Walmart."