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

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read