‘It’s a legal loophole’: British Columbians use U.S.-Canada land border to avoid quarantine hotels

A number of people are taking advantage of what an immigration lawyer calls a “legal loophole” when it comes to entering Canada from the United States.

Buses, taxis and limos are dropping people at land-based ports of entry like the Peace Arch border crossing so they can enter Canada by land to avoid a mandatory hotel quarantine for air travellers.

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Regulations state that travellers arriving into Canada by air have to spend up to three days of the country’s 14-day required quarantine period in a hotel, but those who enter through a land border can quarantine at home.

Caleb Bowe of Northwest Limousine Service said his drivers now make regular trips from the airport in Bellingham, Wash., into Metro Vancouver.

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“We help educate our passengers because there’s a lot of questions,” Bowe said. “They want to check your quarantine plan. They want to check, make sure that you have your testing, everything in place.

“Last week, we had two vehicles go to Kelowna back to back Friday.”

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Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer with an office based in the border town of Blaine, Wash., says these people technically aren’t doing anything wrong.

“A lot of people are asking me, are they doing anything wrong? And I say, ‘Absolutely not.’” he said.

“It’s a loophole and it’s a legal loophole. If a Canadian wants to go through a land port of entry there’s no quarantine at a hotel and I think many people are taking advantage of it.”

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Saunders said he recently picked up a client at the Bellingham International Airport and saw at least a dozen limos or town cars and another dozen taxis waiting out front.

He said flights to Bellingham are increasingly popular with snowbirds returning to Canada after spending part of the year in sun destinations like Arizona.

“Everyone chats down in the desert,” he said. “They talk about these restrictions. They all know who the limo companies are and the flights. A lot of these Canadians have never flown into Bellingham airport so it’s new to them. It’s definitely a unique situation, seeing them taking advantage of this loophole, which is totally legal.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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