COVID-19

For some U.S.-Canadian couples, the pandemic has meant unwanted separation

Emma Jacobs Sep 29, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Canadians can still fly to the U.S. But to do so could mean risking one's health or job. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

For some U.S.-Canadian couples, the pandemic has meant unwanted separation

Emma Jacobs Sep 29, 2020
Canadians can still fly to the U.S. But to do so could mean risking one's health or job. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Rebecca Hoffman is in Alberta, Canada. Her boyfriend, Daniel Collins, is in Tennessee. They’ve been a couple for more than a year. But for months now, they’ve had to communicate online, without seeing each other in person.

The pandemic has led to restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Canada. Certain exemptions have allowed some families living on opposite sides of the border to reunite since those restrictions began in March. Canada created exceptions for spouses and common-law partners to come to Canada, but that doesn’t apply to Hoffman and Collins.

So as the travel restrictions have been extended, Collins has had to tell his employers time and time again to postpone his time off. “[To] say, ‘sorry, just take me off the calendar. I’m not going to be able to go.’ They’re still not going to open the borders. They keep delaying it.”

The travel restrictions aren’t the same in both directions. Canadians can still fly to the United States. But Hoffman, who works as a hairdresser, is now on reduced hours with supplementary emergency unemployment benefits. And she says she’d lose both if she left Canada to visit Collins in Tennessee, and then had to do the 14-day quarantine Canada requires when she returns.

“Now the choice is, you know, to see Daniel and not be able to pay my bills, or to see Daniel and possibly lose my job,” Hoffman said.

Toronto attorney Erin Simpson said some couples who are married but separated by the border have started the paperwork to sponsor their partners to live with them. 

“They want to make some long-term changes to make both of their status more secure and to give themselves, you know, sort of more security going forward,” Simpson said.

Before the pandemic, Hoffman and Collins talked about his eventually moving to Canada to live with her. But it’s not an immediate solution to their current separation. Immigration applications are complicated and take time. So they don’t know how long it will be until they see each other again in person.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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