Ontarian wants exemption from mandatory self-isolation to visit elderly relatives in the United States

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A woman living near the Canada-U.S. Border in Ontario says the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period due to the COVID-19 pandemic is tearing families apart.

Sandy Pearce is a US citizen and a permanent resident of Canada. She lives in Fort Erie and works in Niagara Falls in the tourism industry, but her elderly parents live in Hamburg, New York, just south of Buffalo.

It usually takes her around 15 minutes to drive to Hamburg, but since the pandemic was declared and borders closed to non-essential travel, she has been unable to visit family in the United States. .

She last crossed the border in June, but had to cut her visit short when her workplace reopened and she had to give herself time to self-isolate on her return.

“It tears me apart,” Pearce told CTV News Toronto. “I can’t do the 14-day quarantine all the time if I want to go and help my parents.”

“Families are torn apart and if this continues next year, something must be done for us.”

Pearce said his 92-year-old father lives alone, while his 88-year-old mother lives with her 90-year-old stepfather.

“They have trouble cooking, cleaning and shopping. They need me there. They don’t have anyone there.

Pearce can travel to the United States to visit his parents with relative ease, but must self-isolate for 14 days upon his return to Canada. She said the quarantine period prevented her from visiting her family because she couldn’t afford to be absent from work so much.

She also said that her situation is not unique and that a number of her friends are in similar situations, where they are separated from their loved ones by the Canada-U.S. Border.

“Why can’t they make exceptions? There are always exceptions to every rule, ”Pearce said, noting that some essential workers are able to cross the border every day.

“I’m not asking for the border to be opened… it just needs to be a little easier for people like me who have elderly parents.”

A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency told CTV News Toronto that while they recognize that the 14-day self-isolation period is difficult, it remains mandatory for everyone entering the countries, whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. .

“These are unprecedented times and the measures imposed have been imposed in light of the potential health risks and to help reduce and manage the number of COVID cases linked to travel abroad.”

Pearce has asked the Public Health Agency of Canada for an exemption from the self-isolation restriction, but has not yet received a response. She said she did not object to a COVID-19 test before crossing the border.

She is also considering taking emergency leave from work to care for her parents.

According to the government website, the only people who have been exempted from the public health regulations are those who deliver essential goods such as medical products, those who work in the trade or transport sector, those who work in emergency services and those who regularly cross the border to work in areas such as healthcare or critical infrastructure.

The Canada-U.S. Border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least August 21, although the warrant may be extended.

The ban on discretionary travel was first introduced in March.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s John Musselman

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