Frequent cross-border weddings in Peace Arch Park spur COVID-19 concerns

A South Surrey resident is raising concerns about cross-border weddings taking place in Peach Arch Park amid COVID-19.

Andy Johnston, who lives across from the park that straddles the border between B.C. and Washington state, said weddings and other large gatherings have become more frequent.

The Canadian side of the park was closed on June 18, but Canadians are still free to enter the U.S. side without going through a border crossing.

Read more: Coronavirus: Peace Arch Provincial Park to close again due to spike in visitors

“I think British Columbians are doing a good job and trying hard to follow (provincial health officer Dr.) Bonnie Henry’s lead … but when they get to the park they seem to think that the rules don’t apply to anybody,” Johnston told Global News, Wednesday.

“The hugging and hand-shaking, the mixing of Americans and Canadians together … my concern is that people come back to Canada and don’t isolate, and go into the stores that I might be in.”

Washington state Park Ranger Rick Blank said the park is seeing anywhere from 10 to 20 weddings per week, along with birthday parties, anniversaries and other family gatherings.

2:10 Canadians and Americans find loophole in closure of Peace Arch Park

Canadians and Americans find loophole in closure of Peace Arch Park

Rangers have been taking an educational approach to Washington’s Phase 2 pandemic regulations, which limit people to gathering with no more than five people outside their household per week, said Blank.

“We are talking to folks, but folks to do not follow that,” he said.

“It’s up for the visitor to go ahead and follow the rules. At this time there is no enforcement, there’s been no citations issued or anything like that.”

Read more: Canada-U.S. couple ties the knot at B.C.’s border-straddling Peace Arch Park

Blank said he is not aware of any cases of cross-border transmission linked to gatherings in the park.

Global News has requested data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on whether exposures or case clusters were linked to the park this summer.

Global News has also requested comment from the Surrey RCMP on how it handles Canadian visitors returning from the state park.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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