A state representative from Alaska is calling on the Canadian federal government to be a good northern neighbour, for the sake of the residents of an isolated American border town.
In a letter to Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Alaska State Representative Dan Ortiz "respectfully requests the ability for Hyder, Alaska, residents to cross the U.S.-Canada border at Stewart, B.C."
Ortiz represents Alaska's southeast District 36 in the state legislature, including the isolated border town of Hyder. Hyder's only road access runs through Canada and the neighbouring town of Stewart.
The two communities are intricately linked. Residents shop and work across the border, go to each other's churches, clinics and even schools.
But Canadian COVID-19 restrictions have shut down all but essential visits.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hyder has been almost completely isolated," Ortiz wrote. "These communities rely on each other."
No COVID-19 cases in Hyder, says Ortiz
Ortiz notes there are no COVID-19 cases in Hyder and travel between the towns poses no significant infection risks. He's asking Ottawa to recognize the towns "as an integrated trans-border community."
Ortiz is the first Alaskan politician to take up Hyder's concerns.
A spokesperson for Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy told CBC News the state hasn't made any official request to Canada yet.
On Aug. 21, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee appealed to Ottawa to accommodate citizens trapped in another American enclave, Point Roberts.
A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair acknowledged receipt of the American letters.
In an email to CBC News, the ministry notes Canada has lifted 14-day quarantine requirements for: "... healthy, non-symptomatic residents of Point Roberts, Wash., and Hyder, Alaska, for whom crossing the border on a day-to-day basis is essential for work and daily life will still be permitted."
Essential travel purposes can include work, health care, shopping for essential goods and any other activities at the discretion of border service officers.
The order was updated on Aug. 7, however, and the order exempting students from quarantine requirements "will generally not apply to students crossing the border daily to attend school," according to a statement from the Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
"Therefore, Canadian students must now initiate a new 14-day quarantine period each time they return to Canada from attending school, effectively putting them in ongoing quarantine for the duration of the school year," read the statement.
Non-essential and leisure travel remains prohibited.
Dan Ortiz's letter to Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair: