Couples who have been separated because of COVID-related travel restrictions are urging governments around the world to do more so they can be reunited.
Iain Martin, 45, from Colchester in Essex, wed his American fiancée Puja 19 months ago, but has only been able to spend a few weeks with her.
He applied for a US green card and returned to England to wait for it to come through, but then the pandemic struck and they have only seen each other face-to-face once.
“We were still waiting for my green card to come, something we thought would be a fairly quick process, then COVID hit,” he told Sky News.
“It’s not easy. We are in constant touch with each other but there are things we would like to be doing, like starting a family and that’s been put on hold.
“It gets harder to convince yourself that things are going to work out. There must be so many people around the world who have been broken apart by this and are struggling to keep going on a day-to-day basis.
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Image: Ian is waiting for his green card so he can move to the US
“I would politely ask President Biden if there are any exemptions that could be made. I’m not entirely convinced I’d bother asking the prime minister because he doesn’t seem to have his hands on the levers.”
Iain and Puja both work in the publishing industry and met at a book fair. He says “98%” of their relationship is now conducted via WhatsApp.
Puja is in Washington DC getting things ready for the day they can finally be together.
“I bought this condo here as our home and I’ve been setting it up,” she said.
“But making all the decisions about colour and flooring, and how to furnish is really challenging on your own when it was intended to be for both of us.
Image: Puja says the ‘stress and the strain’ has been creeping in due to their COVID separation
“I try not to let the stress and the strain creep in because it definitely eclipses the joy in having finally met the love of my life.
“I miss his smile. I miss his cup of tea in the morning. I miss sharing space with him.”
The organisation Love Is Not Tourism has put together a global taskforce trying to reunite separated families.
They say 50% of their global community have not seen their partner since the pandemic began, with 87% saying they’re now worried about their mental health as a result of being separated from their partner.
Steve Warner, an administrator for the organisation, says they just want more leeway.
“We keep getting told everyone needs to sacrifice,” he told Sky News. “It’s very frustrating being told that everyone needs to sacrifice by a group of people who aren’t having to sacrifice.
“They’re getting to see their families every day when they go home. They’re getting to see their husbands and wives and children every day.”
In a statement, the government said: “We recognise this is a challenging time, particularly for those separated during the pandemic, and are working to balance the timely reopening of international travel while safeguarding public health and protecting the vaccine rollout.”
Source : Sky News