Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo

Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

The rules around crossing the U.S. border during the pandemic led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple earlier this month, leaving them angry and frustrated as they were forced to go into quarantine without having technically entered the U.S. — indeed, without having even left their vehicle.

Grant and Barbara Howse were on their way to Baja, Mexico, where they have residency and property. There are rules in place to allow for this; in fact, Barbara’s son and daughter-in-law crossed the border earlier — at the Roosville border crossing.

“Originally, we were planning on flying,” Grant Howse said. “But every flight that we booked with WestJet was cancelled, or pushed to a different date. Finally, we decided to drive.

“We got to the border, waited for the command to come in to the port of entry. We explained we were on our way to Mexico, and we were residents of the country. We’re Canadian citizens, but we also have resident status in the Baja.

“But then we were told that we couldn’t go to Mexico unless we were Mexican citizens.

“We were pulling our trailer, and we loaded up to cross the States, because [Barbara’s son and daughter-in-law, who also have Mexican residency] had gone through.”

The son and daughter-in-law had been advised that they couldn’t stop except for essentials — gasoline, food — until they were over the southern border into Mexico, but otherwise they had been waved through.

The Howses explained that they had all their provisions, sanitary gear and masks, and were aware and prepared to follow all safety protocols while crossing the U.S. But even after the U.S. border checked with his supervisor, the Howes’ were still denied entry, offered no further reasons, and told to turn around. But that’s when their troubles really started.

“We were a little stunned,” Howse said.

The couple were told to drive ahead a few metres to a turn-around spot and go back to Canada, and that the U.S. border guards would call their Canadian counterparts and tell them the Howses were coming, having been refused entry.

“We turned around and came back to the Canadian side, and the fellow waved us up to the wicket. And that’s where it all started.”

The Howses were told they were not allowed to come back into Canada unless they went into quarantine for 14 days.

“We said, ‘what do you mean, come back into Canada? We were just refused entry into the U.S. He said ‘it doesn’t matter — you’re entering into Canada from the U.S.’”

The Howses tried to explain that they had not been in the U.S. at all — that they had been denied entry, but the border guard started listing the penalties they could face if they didn’t go into the 14-day quarantine, including jail time and enormous fines.

“We were treated like crap — like we were a couple of idiots. No compassion at all. And he placed us under quarantine. And he told us we had to go directly to our address [in Invermere], and that he would be contacting the RCMP, and they will at any time during the 14 days to make sure we were at the place of quarantine.

“You are not allowed to leave your property, have anyone come to your residence … “The rules set down by this fellow — I was just appalled.”

The Howses duly returned to Invermere on Oct. 8 and went into quarantine. Grant then called Member of Parliament Rob Morrison, looking for some help on the issue.

“Rob has taken it a long way up the ladder in the political aspect of things — he’s really been a great help to us, in trying to get this resolved,” Grant said.

The Howses subsquently got a call from a Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) superintendent.

“He told us this order had come down, that anyone going into the U.S. and coming back into Canada were to go into a 14-day quarantine. Doesn’t matter if you were there for 15 minutes of 60 days. I told him that we had been denied entry. He said there was nothing he could do — it came down as an order from Service Canada.

“I said, ‘just the same, we hadn’t left the country!’ So why were we place in quarantine?’ He said, ‘I’m sorry but that’s the rule.’”

“I then told him about the actions of his employee, and how we were treated. He did say he would look into that.”

Last week, the Howses got a call from Service BC, who confirmed that they would remain under quarantine until October 22. And again, their remonstrations that they had not even left the country — that they had simply driven a few metres to a turn-around spot so they could go back to the Canadian side — did not make any difference. “Those are the rules.”

Grant was not allowed to speak with anyone higher up the ladder at Service BC.

The Howses had planned on renewing their Mexican residency while there. In fact, the deadline to do so was October 23, at the Mexican consulate in Baja. But the Howse’s agent in Baja was able to get an extension period for them to do so. The Howse’s ultimate plan to get dual citizenship, Mexican and Canadian, for all the time they spend there.

“We love the place, the country, the people,” Grant said.

In the meantime, the Howses are stuck in quarantine, and are still furious.

“This is BS,” Grant said. “It’s a bunch of politics that didn’t have to happen. This quarantine is okay in its place, but it doesn’t have to apply to everybody. Who sets these rules?

“There has to be a more neutral area.”

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read