Blaine, Washington. –
Brant Baron opened the doors to his Blaine, Washington business on Friday with eager customers waiting.
“It was extremely exciting. When we opened today I think we had nine cars up front ready and happy to pick up their packages that they’ve been waiting for a very long time,” said Baron, owner of Mail Boxes International.
On April 1, Canada lifted its pre-entry testing requirement, meaning fully vaccinated Canadians will no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to return home.
Baron said some packages that had been on the shelves since the start of the pandemic are finally being recovered thanks to the easing of travel restrictions.
He said a customer picked up about 60 packages.
“So it’s kind of sad to see those March 2020 dates on the stickers, but at the same time happy to see them going back to the rightful owner,” he said.
Longtime customer Garry Matta, who lives in Delta, B.C., said he was thrilled to shop in Blaine again.
“I am crossing the border after two years. It’s so refreshing that things have changed,” Matta told CTV News.
He said the cost of getting a COVID-19 test was a huge barrier.
“Actually, it’s a big problem to pass the test. And then you know, it also takes a lot of money each time to be able to cross the border… you have to pay around $300 or $200 just for the test. So it’s a big relief,” he explained.
Sandy Ward, chairman and chief executive of Visit Bellingham, said locals hoped the increase in visitor traffic would continue.
“A lot of it has to do with the park and fly packages that are offered at our hotels, and the airlines have really stepped up flights out of Bellingham International Airport,” she explained. “Obviously we would like to have a flow of people coming in, but we think it could start with the net. And then as people get more and more comfortable and the virus goes away more and more, I think we’ll see people get more and more comfortable and go back to their habits of before the pandemic, we hope.
Canadians returning home still need to fill in their vaccination information through the ArriveCAN app.
Airline passengers may also be subject to a random PCR test at the airport.
Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Canadians will still need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.