As Canada loosens travel restrictions for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, questions are being raised as to how people can cross between both countries as the rules appear to differ south of the border.
Anyone entering Canada is subject to a 14-day quarantine without COVID-19 symptoms and if they’re exhibiting symptoms of the virus they must isolate upon arrival.
“If you don’t follow these rules, you could face serious penalties,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his address on June 8.
But Canadians wanting to cross into the U.S. are being met with push-back.
“We’re just at the whim of all of these policymakers who are not in the same situation as us and who are making decisions based on a lot of unknowns and there’s not a lot we can do about it,” said Chelsea Tanis, who lives in Toronto, Ont., but is married to a woman living in Buffalo, N.Y.
The couple married in September 2019 after meeting online. The pair bonded over their love for animals, their outlook on life — and understood the meaning of the word compromise as their relationship is divided by an international border.
Chelsea and Eva haven’t seen each other since March, when the border between the two countries was closed amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Why can I fly on an airplane there, multiple airplanes potentially, exposing myself to hundreds of people, but I can’t drive an hour and a half in my own car and see nobody, so there’s this land versus air problem,” Tanis added.
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According to U.S federal regulations, if you’re entering the States by land, it’s essential travel only, but the same rules don’t apply for those crossing by air, water or freight rail.
“U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and certain foreign nationals are exempted from the proclamations and may continue to travel from Brazil, mainland China, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom, or the Schengen Area to the United States,” writes a spokesperson from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“These travelers are subject to CDC enhanced health screening upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. Any flight to the United States from Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the United Kingdom or the Schengen Area will be funneled to one of 15 U.S. airports.”
“I have spoken to other lawyers about this issue and no one can point to something specific that allows us to simply saunter into the United States on an airplane at this time but I don’t think such rule exists,” said Guidy Mamann, an immigration lawyer in Toronto. “Even yesterday, a friend of mine … knows a couple that went to the United States without difficulty.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone travelling into the U.S. self-isolate upon arrival, but each state has different health measures.
“We’re going to see certain areas becoming unusually lax while others seem to be unusually rigid and that over the next coming weeks we have to expect some inconsistencies, maybe excessive restrictions in certain areas and maybe not enough in others,” added Mamann.
Chelsea and Eva Tanis say they’ll be staying in their own countries until border restrictions are further lifted.
“At least there would be an end, like a light in the tunnel, but it’s just indefinite and the not knowing has been hard I think on both of us.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.