Canada relaxes border restrictions for small Alaska town
FILE - A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) patch is seen on an officer in Calgary, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
JUNEAU, ALASKA -- A decision by Canadian officials to relax border restrictions will benefit residents of a small Alaska town where the only road out of the community runs through British Columbia.
The Canadian government on Oct. 30 announced a number of exceptions to 14-day quarantine rules for some border towns including Hyder, Alaska, CoastAlaska reported Tuesday.
The town, which is separated from the rest of Alaska by mountain peaks and open water, has been restricted since March by coronavirus regulations that kept its population of about 60 residents largely cut off from their Canadian neighbours.
"There is a lot more freedom of movement across the border, but it is not completely open for locals to go back and forth," Hyder resident Jennifer Jean said.
Jean is co-chair of the Hyder and Stewart, B.C., COVID-19 Action Committee, which spearheaded the effort to reopen the border and attracted support from elected officials on both sides.
Crossings will be limited for necessities including groceries, fuel, firewood or assistance to family members, while recreation and socializing do not qualify, Jean said.
A school attended by Hyder students closed this year due to low enrolment and students planned to enrol in a community across the border before the quarantine rule blocked that option days before the fall semester began.
The new rules give Hyder students permission to attend class in Canada if they obtain permission from local authorities.
"We were really looking forward to just the freedom of movement back and forth and open border like we used to enjoy before COVID," Jean said. "But the reality is, we are living in a pandemic, and the concessions that have been put in place have allowed the freedom of movement that is necessary."
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some -- especially older adults and people with existing health problems -- it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.