Angry Canadians are intimidating and reporting Americans they suspect may have crossed the border illegally to escape the coronavirus crisis in the United States, according to a report.
Residents of the country — known under normal circumstances for being exceedingly friendly — have taken to tracking and damaging the property of people with US license plates, according to the New York Times.
“The Canadians are actually doing damage to vehicles with United States plates on them,” one source told the paper.
In fact, frequent reports of vigilante-style Yankee-hunting in the land of maple syrup and hockey — where the coronavirus death rate is roughly half that of the US — prompted warnings from officials in Canada, according to the paper.
“With respect to those who have offshore plates and are feeling harassed, I would suggest perhaps public transit. I would suggest that they get their plates changed. I would suggest that they ride a bike,” the premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, said at a recent press conference.
People living on Vancouver Island are even monitoring boats to stop potentially infected foreigners from entering the country, according to the report.
Residents watch to see who turns off their vessel’s automatic identification transponder, which is required to be on at all times, and report boats that go dark to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Canada Border Inspection Station from the US side of the boundary
A ditch marking the Canada-US border in British Columbia
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Two American boaters have each been fined $738 under Canada’s federal Quarantine Act, including one who was on a whale-watching vessel that crossed the border from Washington, the paper reported.
In the province of Alberta, the owners of some businesses, including the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, also do parking lot sweeps to check for US license plates.
The hotel’s general manager, Trevor Long, said he had questioned four guests and reported one to authorities — a “challenging fellow” from Alaska who thought “this whole pandemic was a farce,” Long said.
The Alaskan was hit with an $870 ticket under the Alberta Public Health Act for visiting illegally and was instructed to leave town the following day.
In total, federal police in Alberta recorded 121 complaints of foreign license plates between July 1 and July 28, according to the Times.
The border between the US and Canada was closed to tourists March 31 amid spiking numbers of coronavirus infections. Some Canadians hope big fines and possible prison sentences will keep US residents away.
The United States has recorded more than 4.8 million cases of COVID-19, resulting in at least 160,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Canada has reported more than 120,000 infections and at least 9,000 deaths.
When it comes to death rates, the US has recorded 48.94 deaths per 100,000 population compared to Canada’s 24.32 deaths per 100,000 population, a Johns Hopkins analysis shows.