American Towns Cut Off by the Canadian Border Face Pandemic Dilemma

Where geographical quirks meet quarantine policies

Hyder, Alaska
Hyder, Alaska.
Tdevries/Creative Commons

Here’s a term you may have been unfamiliar with before today: pene-enclave. What does it mean? A new article at CNN defines the term as “a piece of land that can be reached only by traveling through a foreign territory.” Right now, with COVID-19 keeping borders closed around the world, pene-enclaves aren’t just a fascinating subject for your next trivia night — they’re causing the residents of some small towns immense logistical difficulties in going about their daily lives.

The article, by Diane Selkirk, takes the reader to places like Hyder, Alaska and Point Roberts, Washington. Both towns are cut off from the rest of the United States by the Canadian border — which can’t be traversed except by essential workers. And while that means that food and supplies can get in and out, it means that most of the residents of these towns — who’d previously been able to come and go across the border — have their own momentum stifled.

In the case of Hyder, several local students rely on the Canadian town of Stewart for their classes — making the situation even more complex. The article notes that Hyder and Point Roberts have so far avoided COVID-19 cases, giving the local voices calling out for a larger bubble a more substantial platform.

With winter coming, these interwoven communities face a new set of challenges — for example, residents of Hyder have historically gotten their firewood from Stewart. It’s a difficult situation for local and national governments alike, and one that doesn’t lend itself to easy solutions.

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