If you’re in a long-distance relationship with someone living in New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut, you should be aware that several new states have been added to the growing list of identified hotspots. Wyoming, Nevada, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Arizona were added to the hotspot list that grew out of an agreement between the governors of the three states to identify states where COVID-19 infection rates had either not abated or were showing signs of resurgence. The total number of states and territories on the hotspot list is now 35 including the five that were just added. None were removed as of the last update, which clearly indicates that the pandemic is by no means under control in most of the United States.
Long-distance couples are advised not to travel from hotspot states if they’re not ready to factor in the self-quarantine time to the total duration of their trip. If it’s for a quick trip to meet up with your loved one, it’s probably a no-go for you.
The Impact of the Hotspot List and Other Travel Restrictions on Long-distance Relationship Couples
Around the world, unmarried couples who are either in a long-distance relationship or separated by the sudden travel restrictions implemented at the start of the pandemic have been struggling to find ways of being reunited. A few EU countries have lifted their respective bans on travel for such couples but it remains a major bureaucratic challenge to verify whether or not such couples are really in a ‘serious’ relationship.
In the United States, travel options to and from a lot of countries remain closed for the time being. Nobody knows when such restrictions will be lifted, and it has left thousands of couples around the world and in-country fending for themselves, alone and distraught.
The issue is different for married couples because there are already laws to allow them to be reunited in times of emergency. The same isn’t true for live-in partners or any civil union outside of marriage, unfortunately. That has resulted in chaos and conflict, with governments trying to appease human rights and other lobby groups putting intense pressure on them to open their borders to couples forced into long-distance relationships by the onset of the pandemic.
There are no official numbers around how many couples have been separated by the novel coronavirus since it started spreading to the western hemisphere in March this year. However, if you go by the fact that there are currently over 30,000 members in a Facebook group called Love is Not Tourism, which is the same group responsible for popularizing the #loveisnottourism hashtag on Twitter, it’s clear that thousands of couples are still separated by the pandemic and the resulting border closures that each country has implemented.
Granted, the rules are there to protect people who have not been affected, but even 6 months after the bans first started being put into place, there is no respite for couples who are not married. The biggest challenge, as we said, is for governments to be able to verify the ‘authenticity’ of a relationship.
The hesitance stance taken by politicians around the world is understandable. Nobody wants to be the one to open a conduit that invites fraudulent entry into their country. Allowing unmarried couples unrestricted access across closed borders could trigger a wave of illegal immigration. That’s one side of the argument. The other side contends that these couples have suffered long enough and it’s time to give them their due.
There are valid arguments on both sides but the power clearly rests with the respective governments. With a globally available vaccine still months away and several countries seeing a resurgence of the virus after relaxing restrictions, this is likely a low-priority item on most governments’ to-do lists.