The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Quebec, on Friday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Quebec, on Friday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Car with Washington plates targeted in B.C. vandalism attack

The closure between Canada and the U.S. has been extended month-by-month 10 times now.

By David Rasbach / The Bellingham Herald

A car with Washington state license plates was targeted in an act of vandalism across the border in Canada. Even though the car was owned by British Columbia citizens, police said in a release they believe the U.S. plates triggered the crime.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ridge Meadows, B.C. are investigating the incident in which the car had its tires slashed with a 12-year-old girl alone inside.

“There are a number of reasons why people in Canada can legally have out-of-province plates on their car,” Constable Julie Klaussner said in the release. “While this vehicle did have Washington plates these victims are authorized to be in Canada and are Canadian citizens.

“It is important not to draw conclusions based on what we think we know and, in this case, a young girl has been traumatized and a car has been vandalised (sic).”

The reported incident occurred at approximately 4:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, when a Canadian family went for a walk in the 17000 block of Rannie Road near a local dyke walking area, according to the release. While the family was walking, the parents left their 12-year-old daughter in the vehicle, which was left along the side of the road.

Shortly after the family left, an unknown man approached, yelled expletives and slashed the tires on the driver’s side, before leaving the area in his own car.

RCMP investigators are asking for witnesses to the incident or dash camera footage that may have caught it.

U.S.-Canada border closure

The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to non-essential travel for nearly 11 months, since the countries first agreed to limit who could cross March 21, 2020, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

All essential travel, such as that for trade between the nations, has been allowed to continue as usual.

That closure has since been extended, month-by-month, 10 times and currently is scheduled to last until at least Sunday, Feb. 21.

No official word has been given about the status of the border after Sunday, though U.S. President Joe Biden promised to begin looking into what it would take to open the 167 U.S. border crossings with Canada and Mexico shortly after taking office, according to a story by the Washington Examiner. Biden signed an executive order asking the Centers for Disease Control, Homeland Security, and the State and Transportation departments to begin speaking to their Canadian and Mexican counterparts on how to end the travel restrictions.

But on Monday, Canada enacted new, stricter testing and quarantine regulations that signal the border closure will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Canada is now requiring all travelers — with few exceptions — to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result in the U.S. within 72 hours of arrival or a positive test result from 14 to 90 days prior to arriving at all land and air ports of entry.

In addition, beginning Monday, Feb. 22, travelers entering Canada through a land border crossing will be required to take a molecular test on arrival as well as at the end of a mandatory 14-day quarantine and submit their travel and contact information along with a suitable quarantine plan upon entry.

“With these additional COVID testing requirements and safety measures at the land border we are taking extra steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants,” Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said in a release announcing the measures. “As we do for air travel, we are now also requiring travellers by land to provide information using ArriveCAN to facilitate processing and limit points of contacts between border services officers and travellers.

“We’ll always prioritize the health and safety of Canadians as we make decisions.”

COVID numbers update

As of Thursday, the United States remained the hardest-hit country in the world during the pandemic with more than 27.8 million confirmed cases and 492,000 related deaths, according to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard. Canada, meanwhile, was 22nd overall with more than 841,000 cases and 21,000 related deaths.

The U.S. is the third-most populated country in the world with 331,002,651 residents, according to worlometers.info, while Canada is No. 39 with 37,742,154 residents.

According to the British Columbia COVID-19 dashboard as of Wednesday, Feb. 17, the province has seen 74,710 total cases during the pandemic and 1,317 confirmed deaths — an increase of 16,603 cases and 307 deaths since the last border extension was announced Jan. 12. With a population of approximately 5.1 million, British Columbia has seen an infection rate of 325.5 cases and 6.1 deaths per 100,000 residents since Jan. 12.

The Washington State Department of Health, meanwhile, reported 313,633 confirmed cases and 4,759 related deaths on Wednesday — an increase of 48,321 cases and 1,060 deaths since Dec. 11. With a population of approximately 7.5 million, the state has averaged 644.28 cases and 14.13 deaths per 100,000 residents since Jan. 12.

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