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Cross-border couple kept apart by COVID rules gets creative during holidays

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Christmas will look different for cross-border couples as COVID-19 continues to impact border restrictions.

In February Dave Hogsten, who lives in Baltimore, proposed to his partner Kaelynn Ball, who lives in the Lower Mainland near Vancouver, and she said yes.

But two weeks later COVID-related travel restrictions started to hit.

“All of a sudden our wedding plans are gone and everything we were hoping for diminished and fell apart. And then we were like, ‘When are we going to meet again?’ There was just a guy question mark on the calendar,” Hogsten says.

The couple has been in a long-distance relationship for two years and isn’t sure how long they will have to remain apart.

“We thought we’d be doing wedding dress shopping, looking and venues and guest lists, putting together a guest list. But because we’re long distance, we can’t even set a date,” Ball says.

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In the summer spending time together was a little easier after the Peach Arch park near the Canada-U.S. border in B.C. became known as a place for cross border couples and family members to gather.

To take advantage of the new hotspot, Hogsten would fly into Seattle and drive to the park to see Ball.

“Had a picnic in the park for four days in the rain, and the cold, and the sun,” Hogsten says.

But the last time the pair saw each other in person was August.

Since then, they’ve been making the best of the situation online and getting creative and took what they’ve learned to share with other couples through social media and a recently launched blog.

“We wanted to be able to help people who aren’t able to see each other in person, people who are still apart,” Ball says.

“And seeing the stories posted with the lovers coming together, family members come together, absolutely has built our relationship may have stronger. Made us cry together at moments,” Hogsten adds.

The couple now says since October, people in similar situations have been able to apply for exceptions to see each other but turnaround times have been getting long and many are feeling forgotten. They want the government to step up efforts to process those requests.

“We’d like to see those people but a little bit more priority on when they’re trying to do everything properly. Follow the rules trying to connect,” Ball says.

As the holidays near, and the couple had time off from work, they say they are trying to make the best of it online. Hogsten adds, “So it’ll still be nice. Bitter-sweet.”

But despite all the uncertainty, Ball and Hogsten say absence truly does makes the heart grow fonder.