Osoyoos border crossing

Osoyoos is one of just five ports of entry through which Americans can now get into Canada en route to Alaska, the Canada Border Services Agency announced Thursday.

Other new rules that went into effect today at 12:01 a.m. require Americans to take the most direct route possible to Alaska and avoid national parks, tourist spots and other unnecessary stops. They’ll also be given tags to hang off their rear-view mirrors indicating they’re in transit and the date by which they have to exit Canada.

Before they cross into Alaska, they’ll be required to confirm their exit at a CBSA office.

Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff said she hasn’t had any concerns about Alaska-bound travellers passing through the community to date.

“I can’t say that it’s been an issue here, however, now that we’re one of three (designated crossings) in B.C., it could be,” said McKortoff.

She was nonetheless relieved to hear the federal government had come up with a “proper plan” to handle American visitors, some of whom have made headlines after being spotted visiting Canadian tourist attractions despite the border being closed to most non-essential travel.

“We should have done it a long time ago,” said McKortoff.

The other four ports of entry dedicated to Alaska-bound travellers are at Abbotsford-Huntingdon and Kingsgate, both in B.C., plus Coutts, Alta., and North Portal, Sask.

Americans wishing to travel north aren’t guaranteed admittance into Canada, which closed its border in March.

“Upon arrival at one of the designated ports of entry, in-transit travellers must satisfy a (border services officer) that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada,” the CBSA said in its release.

“Travellers are encouraged to have documentation that will demonstrate their purpose of travel. The final decision is made by a BSO, based on the information available to them at time of entry.”

The maximum penalty for failing to comply with the new rules, which arise from the Quarantine Act, is a $750,000 fine and six months in jail. Those who knowingly put others at risk by violating the act face up to $1 million in fines and three years in jail.