Montreal Woman in Self-Quarantine After Being Turned Away at U.S. Border

New grandmother Colette Mersy's decision to attempt to drive rather than fly will delay visit by two weeks
October 14, 2020 Updated: October 14, 2020

A woman from Montreal who was refused entry at the Canada-U.S. land border when she tried to visit her daughter and newborn grandson in New York, now has to stay in self-quarantine for 14 days, unable to fly down, which is permitted, until that period is finished.

Colette Mersy tried to drive across the land border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, she told CBC News.  She thought it was possible to cross the land border for what she deemed essential travel.

But when the Montreal woman talked to U.S. border service agents, while wearing a mask and respecting social distancing, she was told that going to help her daughter with the newborn was not essential travel.

She had not left the parking lot, but when she turned back to the Canadian gate, she was told by a Canada Border Services Agency officer that she would now have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Technically, when she entered the parking lot, she was already in the U.S..

“I’m still thinking that good sense will win and that I can speak at one point with someone who is going to say, ‘Well this is nonsense, of course you don’t have to quarantine,’ and I can go to see my daughter, my family, and help.”

Epoch Times Photo
In this photo taken Sunday, May 17, 2020, a bird flies from the U.S. into Canada over the Peace Arch in Peace Arch Historical State Park on the border with Canada, where people can walk freely between the two countries at an otherwise closed border, in Blaine, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Even though she was only in the U.S. for a few minutes, the quarantine requirement means she will not be able to fly to the U.S. for 14 days.

Canadians can still fly to the U.S. for non-essential travel, including vacations, but they cannot drive across the border.

“I thought I’d take the chance. My main problem is to turn around and learn that I cannot fly until two weeks to go and help my daughter until two weeks because I must do this quarantine.”

“This is what I find ridiculous, totally unjust,” Colette told CBC news.

Colette does plan to fly after her quarantine is over.

The rules are different for those entering Canada.

Canada does not allow Americans to enter across the land border, nor by plane, unless they apply for an exemption, such as for extended family members.

Canada did broaden the terms of essential travel earlier this month for those coming here from abroad for compassionate reasons.

Exceptions for extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents were granted to include couples who have been dating for at least a year, foreign nationals coming for compassionate reasons such as life-threatening illness, and international students.

All travelers to Canada must still quarantine for 14 days unless they are exempt.  Travelers may request approval for limited release from quarantine for compassionate reasons.