POEs In Montana Change Hours Due to COVID-19
Opheim’s Port Will Be Open Monday Through Friday, Closed On Weekends
April 8, 2020
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on April 3, hours of operation at six ports of entry in Montana, including Opheim, will be reduced as a result of reduction in traffic due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The hours will be in effect during the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and are not expected to be a long-term change.
The Port Of Opheim which is typically open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, will now be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and closed on weekends. Other ports of entry affected include The Port of Raymond, which will now be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week; Port of Morgan, which will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; Port of Turner, which will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; Del Bonita, which will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and the Port of Piegan, which will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
The reduced hours are expected to remain in place through April 30, or until travel restrictions are lifted in response to the coronavirus.
“With the essential-only travel restrictions imposed on March 21, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cross-border travel has significantly declined. Reducing the hours of operations at ports of entry along both land borders will allow CBP to continue to provide service to these communities as we work to keep our employees safe from exposure and community spread,” CBP stated in a press release.
These reduced hours come at a time when farmers are getting ready to start their planting season, which is resulting in Montana Congressional delegation to push back and speak up about the effects these changes will have on farmers.
In a letter to Commissioner Mark A. Morgan, Congressman Greg Gianforte asked to reverse the reduction of hours at the Port of Raymond, which is typically a 24-hour port of access. “Agriculture is Montana’s number one economic driver and forcing suppliers to alter their schedules or reduce delivery during the height of planting season is irresponsible. Maintaining the current hours of operation is critical to the continued flow of goods and economic activity between Montana and Canada,” Congressman Gianforte stated in the letter.
Senator Steve Daines said he understands the importance of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing non-essential travel however he stated the reductions in hours will negatively affect the agriculture sector. In a letter he stated, “While reducing non-essential travel is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health, a reduction in hours at these critical ports would harm our farmers and ranchers and disrupt essential services and commerce for the Montana communities that rely upon these ports.”
Senator Tester also supports the need for the borders to be open longer to assist in cross-border trade. In a statement to the Courier, he said, “As the Senate’s only working farmer, I know firsthand that cross-border trade is essential for Montana’s producers, Agriculture is the backbone of our state even in times of crisis, and it is critical that the Customs and Border Patrol work with Montana producers to keep everyone healthy and our food supply chains open.”