peace arch park

Canada closes loophole that allowed families to gather at the U.S. border

British Columbia has announced that it will close Peace Arch Provincial Park along the Canada-U.S. border on Thursday, citing a "significant" increase in traffic at the park in recent weeks.

The park has been a loophole for families separated since the border closed to non-essential travel in mid-March, with people gathering for family reunions, hugs and, in some cases, even weddings.

B.C. Parks owns the northern half of the park, while Washington State Parks owns the southern half.

The Canadian portion of the park reopened to the public on May 14, after B.C. closed all of its provincial parks in early April; the American portion is also open.

In a statement released on Thursday, B.C. Parks said it's struggling to deal with the increased volume of traffic to the park, which has doubled since this time last year.

"Parking lots and local access roads have been overwhelmed," the statement says.

B.C. Parks says that it has taken measures to deter visitors such as posting signage, reducing park hours and installing a permanent gate at the park entrance, but that the measures have been ineffective.

"The park will reopen when it is deemed safe to do so," the statement reads.

Canadian border agents have had to turn away more than 6,000 Americans in recent weeks, all of whom were hoping to cross into the country for non-essential purposes such as shopping or sight-seeing.

Some U.S. citizens have also been quietly slipping into the country through what has been referred to as the "Alaska Loophole," in which Americans are allowed into Canada if they promise to drive straight through the country and into Alaska.

As of June 8, Canada allows immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to cross the border from the U.S. into Canada, provided that they don't have symptoms and promise to self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival.

The border will remain closed to all non-essential traffic until at least July 21, 2020.

The Peace Arch Provincial Park closure takes effect at 8 p.m. PT on Thursday.

Lead photo by

Washington State Parks

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