Document Type

Border Policy Brief

Publication Date

Spring 2020


US - Canada border, COVID 19 economic impact


On February 29, 2020, the first death from COVID-19 occurred in Washington State. Over the weeks following, both Washington State and British Columbia implemented various efforts aimed at reducing the spread of the virus. On March 14th, B.C. announced closures of many businesses, made recommendations against non-essential travel, and implemented a voluntary two week self-quarantine on Canadians returning to Canada. Two weeks later, Washington issued a stay-at-home order which went into effect March 23rd. These state and provincial measures aimed at limiting mobility coincided with the bilateral decision by the U.S. and Canada to limit cross-border travel. These restrictions, which went into effect on March 21st, placed limits on all ‘non-essential’ passenger travel between the two countries, while maintaining the flow of commercial cargo.

This report is one in a series of briefings on the economic impacts of the border in Whatcom County, aimed at improving knowledge of the effects that Canadians have on various aspects of the economy. This is particularly important when considering economic recovery post COVID-19, as cross-border volumes may remain relatively low even after border restrictions and stay-at-home orders are lifted, due to public health concerns. The relatively large number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities in Washington State compared to B.C. is likely to influence Canadian’s decisions to engage in discretionary travel to the U.S.1 The short- to medium-term effects of fewer Canadian visitors will impact particular sectors in certain locations in Whatcom County in different ways. These BPRI briefings are an effort to both quantify and qualify those impacts. Additional reports will consider taxable retail sales (including online sales), fuel tax, and tourism.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

COVID-19 (Disease)--Economic aspects--British Columbia--Vancouver; COVID-19 (Disease)--Economic aspects--Washington (State)--Whatcom County; Borderlands-Diseases--British Columbia; Borderlands-Diseases--Washington (State)--Whatcom County

Geographic Coverage

Washington (State)--Economic aspects--Whatcom County; British Columbia--Economic aspects






Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.