The Town of Osoyoos is facing potential economic trouble following the closure of the U.S. / Canada border due to COVID-19.
The town is a 15 minute drive from Oroville, WA and sees travellers from the U.S. and Canada frequently cross the border for tourism, goods and services.
However, the town’s mayor, Sue McKortoff says she is “quite happy” that the border will close to all non-essential travel.
In fact, McKortoff would have liked to see the border close even sooner than it did to protect the people of her town. Washington state has the second most COVID-19 cases of all American states with 1,187 as of March 19, however no cases have been recorded in the county that borders Osoyoos.
Osoyoos residents often drive to the U.S. to purchase cheaper gas and groceries, but McKortoff doesn’t see the need to cross the border in these times.
“We need to protect the businesses in this town. We need to shop locally. We need to support the people in our town that support us,” said McKortoff.
The mayor says she hasn’t heard the reactions from any Osoyoos residents yet, but she believes that town will be able to support itself without relying on tourism from the U.S. that usually starts to pick up around this time of year.
McKortoff says she doesn’t think there are any cases currently in the town but she stressed it is imperative it doesn’t spread there and, for the most part, she’s been impressed with the initiative she’s seen from locals.
“I think in this day and age we need to be more sensible and we need to protect each other and we need to stay home,” McKortoff said.
“We’ve had people volunteer to go out pick-up groceries for people or do chores for them, we had a retired nurse volunteer her time at the South Okanagan Hospital, I’ve been phoning my older friends to make sure they are OK.
“Those are the kind of things we want people to do and so far people have been quite accepting of it.”