Families separated by COVID-19 border closure 'excited' to reunite

Couples are 'excited' to reunite as the government announced border exemptions for 'immediate family members' starting Tuesday.

One Michigan father will meet his one-month old son for the first time

Ashley Cook said she's at a high-risk for a preterm birth, so her doctor gave a note for her husband Tom to cross the border because she needs his support ⁠— but they were denied. (Submitted by Ashley Cook)

Mom-to-be Ashley Cook is "super relieved" at the news that her husband Tom will be able to cross the U.S.– Canada border for the birth of their first child. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that at midnight, Canada will allow immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents to enter the country. Canada's borders shut mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19, though commercial traffic and essential workers were excluded from the closure. 

Government officials said anyone crossing the border must be symptom-free and quarantine for 14 days or face penalties. 

The exemption comes a little more than two months before the Cooks welcome their newborn in mid-August. 

"I want (Tom) to see my baby bump and like feel her move and so I'm excited for that," Ashley said about reuniting with her husband after being separated for two months. 

Windsor doctor reacts to province opening border for immediate family

CBC News Windsor

1 year ago
Ashley Cook is 'excited' to see her husband, but hopes everyone will soon be able to see their loved ones across the border as the exemption only allows for certain 'immediate family.' 0:33

Canadian-American families divided due to border closure

Both Ashley and Tom are doctors who live and work on opposite sides of the border. She is in Windsor and he is in Michigan. 

The couple was forced to live apart when COVID-19 struck and were uncertain if the closure would be lifted in time for them to be together for the birth of their firstborn. 

"I just feel so sad," a tearful Ashley told CBC News in May when the border closure was extended until the end of June.

"I have a hard time talking about this. My husband is missing out on this entire journey that we worked really, really, hard for. It's just more frustrating probably than anything." 

Ashley Cook has been in the process of getting her green card so she can live with her husband in the U.S. But she said the process has taken a long time, so she's had to live and work in Windsor until the application is completed. (Submitted by Ashley Cook)

Ashley was left feeling isolated during a tricky pregnancy — one that her and Tom had spent four years waiting for. 

During that time, Ashley went through multiple rounds of in-vitro fertilization, including trips to Spain for the treatment. 

Knowing that they'll finally be reunited has Ashley feeling "super excited," though she said she worries about how the mandatory 14-day quarantine will apply to Tom as he'll need to go back to Michigan for work. 

'Finally being heard' 

But the Cooks aren't the only ones — on May 9, Windsor resident Haylie Gadsby gave birth without her fiancé Mark, who currently lives in Michigan. 

The baby boy, Bentley, is the couple's firstborn child, but dad and baby have yet to meet. 

"I'm just extremely excited," Haylie said, adding that she's looking forward to "being a family." 

Before border closures, the couple had set up a fully stocked nursery in Michigan but with Haylie stuck on Canadian soil, she's had to rely on hand-me-downs from Facebook users. 

The opening of the border for "immediate family members" has Haylie feeling like their concerns are "finally being heard."

The government's border exemption includes the following people:

  • Spouse or common-law partner.
  • Dependent child.
  • Parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person's spouse or common-law partner. 
  • Guardian or tutor.


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