Businesses find creative ways to store Canadian mail piling up in the U.S.
VANCOUVER -- When the borders closed to all non-essential travel on March 21, many B.C. residents didn’t have a chance to pick up their mail. Months later, it’s piling up on shelves at Brant Barron’s Mail Boxes International.
At first, he said they saw a decrease in package volume and visits but now, “we’re actually still getting about a quarter of the packages we were getting pre-COVID because business owners can still come down if you’re considered an essential business,” said Barron.
He told CTV News that Canadian businesses and residents make up about 95 percent of his customers. To deal with storing the mounting number of packages, he’s parked a shipping container in their front parking lot.
“It’s probably half full right now,” he said. But what they’re experiencing is, “about a third to 50 per cent more parcels in the warehouse today than we ever see even in peak Christmas season. So it’s an adventure.”
The border restrictions last 30 days at a time, and have been extended three times already. The current restrictions are set to run out July 21, unless Canada and the U.S. make a change.
The restrictions have separated families, forcing them to meet along the 49th parallel or at Peace Arch Park. The B.C. government has closed the Canadian side, which is a provincial park, but the American section remains open and there are entry points for Canadians along 0 avenue.
But reopening the borders is not something the majority of Canadians want to see happen yet. According to a new Nanos poll, eight out of 10 Canadians want the borders to remain closed for the foreseeable future. That’s a view B.C.’s provincial health officer echoes.
“We’re very concerned,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her near daily news conference Monday. "I cannot see vacation travel this summer from the U.S. given the rates that we're seeing and how widespread it is in the U.S. right now.”
COVID-19 cases have exploded in the United States this month. More than 50,000 daily cases have been identified on more than one occasion.
On the border reopening, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said he doesn’t think it will be “any time soon.” He went on to say that it’s not just about Americans travelling north, but also Canadians heading to the U.S.
“Washington and Oregon are obvious, but also Arizona, Nevada and California, these are states where Canadians and British Columbians visit frequently,” he said. "Clearly the trend line is entirely in the opposite direction and this is true around the world. These have been the highest days of COVID-19.”
Obviously for Baron’s business it would be better if it was “sooner rather than later,” he said, but “certainly we want to see it done at the appropriate time.”
And he said if the restrictions are extended, he and his team will continue to store packages for free. “Initially we said we’re going to do an additional 30 days of storage for free and then we get inundated with phone calls, so then we said okay an extra 60 days,” he told CTV News. “Finally we just said hey, we will do free storage for 30 days after normal border traffic is restored.”