American travelers cited for violating Canadian COVID-19 restrictions

alaska canadian border sig
A road sign in Haines, 39 miles south of the Canadian border, in March 2020. (Henry Leasia/KHNS)

Several Americans have been cited by law enforcement in British Columbia for breaking rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Canadian Border Service Agency implemented tougher restrictions in July for travelers driving to or from Alaska through Canada. Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police says law enforcement was contacted when a group of travelers failed to social distance and wear masks while making a stop in Fort St. Johns in late August.

“Three individuals who were traveling from America up to Alaska were found to have been in a local area restaurant not wearing a mask and dining in and having contact with people inside the restaurant and then sustained contact with people after the restaurant,” Shoihet said. “So they were fined $1,000 each.”

Shoihet said in another instance, border agents cited a family of five driving from Alaska to Washington for failing to make the trip in the amount of time they were allotted by CBSA. The agents notified law enforcement and the group was escorted to the border and fined.

Incidents such as these have been rare, Shoihet said.

You know, we encourage everybody to listen to the regulations and abide by those regulations,” she said. “Certainly we are not out to give fines to everybody, but if you are found to be not compliant with that we will certainly issue the fines and that is to protect all Canadians and our communities.”

The Canadian border has been closed to non-essential travel since March. Alaskans are allowed to travel through the country for essential reasons and under certain conditions. CBSA requires travelers to wear masks while in transit and remain in their vehicles as much as possible.

New regulations implemented in July require motorists to enter Canada through one of five border crossings when making their way to Alaska. Travelers who cross the border are given a specific date by which they must depart Canada and are required to take the most direct route from their point of entry to their point of exit.