Apparent loophole in travel restrictions allows Canadians to travel to the United States

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VANCOUVER –
Jamie Tarlier and her husband planned to meet at Peach Arch Provincial Park on Friday afternoon, the day after it reopens, but she heard there may be another option. So she booked a YVR flight to Seattle instead.

“I jumped ahead and booked a flight to Seattle at 7:30 am this morning,” she told CTV News on Friday. She had heard that other Canadians had successfully done the same thing after leaving Vancouver and Toronto.

“I just wasn’t nervous about it because if I went there and they told me I couldn’t go, no losses,” said Tarlier. “At least I tried. “

Like so many couples, she and her husband, Mike Dunn, were separated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He lives in Bellingham and she lives in Delta. The couple married on November 4 and went through the immigration process.

“It is really difficult because you are supposed to be quarantined with your family and we are each other’s family, so it was very difficult for us not to have each other,” said Tarlier.

On March 21, Canada and the United States imposed border restrictions on all non-essential travel that is in place until at least May 21. Land borders have since practically stalled, separating many families and couples who live on either side, but some people seem to have found a way out by traveling by air.

Tarlier said that she was interrogated upon arrival at customs.

“They told me that the rules were the same for land borders and air flights,” she said, adding that she had told the officer that she was going to see her husband. “I was completely honest. “

Then they let her pass.

“What seems to have happened is that rule that the Americans promulgated on March 20 seems to have been directed only at the land entry point,” said immigration lawyer Len Saunders.

He told CTV News that he only discovered this flaw when one of his clients called him on Wednesday to tell him he was in Las Vegas.

“Whoever wrote this rule probably didn’t realize that you had these pre-flight screening facilities in the United States on Canadian soil,” he said. “Because, logically, if you cannot enter a land entry point, why should you be able to enter an airport? “

Tarlier said she felt safe in flight: there were only eight people on her flight, and everyone was seated at least two rows apart.

“The flight attendants had masks all the time,” she said. “They came to pick up your garbage and, you know, followed standard safety protocols. They gave you hygienic wipes and that’s it. “

Tarlier works as a marketing coordinator but was temporarily laid off due to the pandemic.

“I was only sitting in Canada, so I might as well sit in Bellingham,” she told CTV News. She hopes to continue working at work when life returns to normal, but for now, the newlyweds plan to continue quarantine. Only this time, they will be together.

“I’m basically going to quarantine anyway. We’re going to hang out at his place, and I think the biggest adventure could be the grocery store, “she said. Her return flight is scheduled for May 26, but Tarlier said she could extend her stay.

As to whether this falls into the category of “essential travel” and whether traveling with spouses could endanger the public, Tarlier said: “I would consider marriage and direct family to be essential. She added that seeing her husband was worth 14 days of quarantine when he returned to Canada.

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