The mayor of a West Kootenay town has apologized for what she now says was a wrong decision to travel to the United States for COVID-19 vaccines and to visit family, during a time when many Canadians cannot travel freely under public health restrictions and haven’t yet received a shot.
Rossland, B.C., Mayor Kathy Moore admits she and her husband — both Canadian-American dual citizens — travelled to Spokane, Wash., on April 1 by car for their first coronavirus vaccines. They arrived in Arizona — also by car — on April 5 and got their second doses there on April 27.
The couple is now staying with their son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in Phoenix, Ariz.
“People have so much anger and resentment about it because I’m doing something that they can’t do,” Moore said Monday to Sarah Penton, the host of CBC’s Radio West.
“I do recognize that elected officials are held to a higher standard,” Moore continued. “I let down my own standards in that regard, and I regret that.”
Moore was born to a Canadian mother and an American father and grew up in California.
Under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s current guidelines, American citizens are exempt from COVID-19 travel restrictions.
By taking land transportation, Moore didn’t have to show a negative COVID test result to U.S. border officers as is required for flight travellers to the country.
Moore also did not have to self-isolate after travelling from Washington state to Arizona, which has no quarantine mandates for visitors from other U.S. states.
The mayor said she has been following public health protocols, staying home most of the time and not socializing with people outside of the family bubble.
Last month, B.C. banned non-essential travel between the province’s three regional zones until May 25. The legal orders under the provincial Emergency Program Act are designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Moore said she didn’t feel bad about taking advantage of her U.S. citizen status to get vaccinated south of the border, because she believed Canada was on the right track to vaccinate all its citizens for COVID-19.
“I really just got overly optimistic about the progress that was being made at home,” she said.
Moore said she understands the pain of British Columbians not being able to visit their loved ones under the current travel restrictions, and said in hindsight she wouldn’t have made the trip.
“I made my decision based on being a mother and grandmother, not being the mayor, and it was a mistake,” she said.
In January, former Castlegar, B.C., Mayor Bruno Tassone quit after coming under fire for travelling outside of his local community during the Christmas holidays, despite provincial guidelines against non-essential travel.
Moore said she considered resigning, but later decided against it because she believes she still has the confidence of Rossland city council.
“What I’ve heard so far is that they accepted my apology, and they knew in advance I was doing this [travelling to U.S.],” she said.
“There’s only a year and a half left in this term. I’ve said from the beginning of this term that I’m not running again, so I think it would be more disruptive to the community to call another by-election.”
Moore said she and her husband will travel back to Rossland in mid-May — by car — and will take COVID tests before entering Canada and self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
The federal government requires most air passengers to Canada to spend up to three days of their 14-day quarantine period at a designated hotel to await their COVID test results, but this requirement doesn’t apply to land travellers.