Montreal·Video

Montreal woman turned away at U.S. border told to quarantine for 14 days

Colette Mersy wanted to visit her new grandson in New York. But after she was turned away the U.S. border, she was told to self-isolate for 14 days.

CBSA says no exemptions to quarantine rules for people who are denied entry into U.S.

Colette Mersy drove to the U.S. border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, but American authorities wouldn't let her into the country because her trip was deemed non-essential.  (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

A Montreal woman denied entry into the United States while trying to visit her new grandson says she was told by a Canada border services agent to self-isolate for 14 days, even though she never got across.

Colette Mersy was trying to drive to New York on Friday to see her daughter and her newborn baby.

She tried to go through border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, but American authorities wouldn't let her into the country because her trip was deemed non-essential. 

She said she didn't leave the parking lot, and spoke to two U.S. border services agents while wearing a mask and respecting physical distancing rules. 

When she turned back to the Canadian gate, a Canada Border Services Agency officer told her she would have to self-quarantine for 14 days, she said.

"I understand if you are coming from abroad, but I didn't enter the space; I'm not coming from abroad," Mersy said.

"I find this totally stupid." 

She was told that the moment she crossed the Canadian checkpoint, she had entered American territory, even if she was denied entry to the United States, Mersy said. 

WATCH | Montreal woman turned away at U.S. border told to quarantine for 14 days:

Montreal woman turned away at U.S. border told to quarantine for 14 days

CBC News Montreal

3 months agoVideo
3:53
Colette Mersy was trying to visit her grandson but never got across the border. She was still told to quarantine. She tells her story to CBC Montreal's Debra Arbec. 3:53

In a statement, the Canada Border Services Agency said there are no exemptions to the quarantine rules for people who are denied entry into the United States, only for those travelling for essential purposes such as trade. 

Earlier this month, Canada broadened its eligibility criteria for people coming to the country from abroad on compassionate grounds.

The changes governing family reunification include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

"This allows close family members to enter Canada, but they are not exempt from quarantine," said immigration lawyer Krishna Gagné. 

The rule does not apply to people entering the U.S. 

Despite border closure, flights allowed to U.S.

Mersy said she was shocked to hear from U.S. border agents that she could go see her daughter and new granddaughter in New York if she took a plane there. 

"If I had known what to expect, I would never have tried to cross the land border, I would have taken a plane," she said. 

While trips via the U.S. land border are closed to non-essential traffic, Canadians can still fly to the United States for leisure travel. 

By contrast, Canada prohibits Americans from entering by any mode of transportation, unless they obtain a special exemption, such as those for family members.

"If that makes sense, I'm not sure," said Gagné, "but when she comes back for Canada, she will have to quarantine for 14 days."

A Montreal woman is in quarantine after being denied entry to the United States at the border. We speak with her about her experience and hear reaction from an immigration lawyer 15:58

With files from CBC Montreal Daybreak

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now