WASHINGTON — A decision by the U.S. government to extend a ban on nonessential travel along the border with Canada and Mexico is “extremely disappointing,” said a co-owner of the Black Ball Ferry Line, which has not be able to run the Coho ferry between Port Angeles and Victoria since mid-March 2020.
Ryan Malane, vice president of marketing and co-owner of Black Ball commented Friday on the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement made earlier that day.
The department gave notice in a tweet Friday that the restrictions on nonessential travel were still needed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant.
It extended the ban until at least Sept. 21.
“We had hoped for an opportunity to return to service for at least the last part of the summer season,” Malane said in an email.
“This is the longest period of time this route has remain closed in over 100 years.”
Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens as of Aug. 9, but the Coho cannot return to service until both nations authorize travel over the border, Malane has said.
Rep. Derek Kilmer of the 6th Congressional District and others representing U.S. border communities have urged the Biden administration to lift the ban, which has been in place since early in the pandemic in March 2020 and repeatedly extended while allowing commercial traffic and essential crossings to continue.
DHS said it is working with public health and medical experts to determine how to “safely and sustainably resume normal travel.”
The crew of the Coho, which is docked at Port Angeles, “has done an exceptional job of maintaining the ship over the last 18 months,” Malane said.
“The Coho remains ready to sail.
“We look forward to a full, bilateral reopening of the border and a return to service. “
Malane said officials continue to work with local, state and federal governments regarding financial assistance for Black Ball Ferry Line.
”We can’t say enough about how appreciative we are for all of their support,” he said. “We have repeatedly been told how important they feel Black Ball Ferry Line is to the community.
“No one expected this to last as long as it has.”