Throughout Christmas week Gef is talking to people about their experiences of being separated from their families. Both these people spoke to us before the newly announced border restrictions.
A woman who emailed Gef after reading another person’s experience told us she wanted to ‘encourage conversation on the Island about the impact it’s having on people’s families – personally, I’ve found it really tough and it’s made a difficult year much, much worse. I know lots of Manx friends living in the UK feel the same’.
‘It’s really heart-breaking – not just that I haven’t been able to see my family for 11 months (although that is horrible), but also that I’ve got no idea when I will be able to see them again.
‘Yes, there’s provision for family members to travel from the Isle of Man to the UK if they quarantine on return, but that’s not a realistic option for everyone. In my case, my youngest brother is in school and my Dad can’t do his job working from home – so it’s out of the question.
‘In contrast, I would be happy to stay in a quarantine hotel for two weeks and get tested – or whatever other measures the Manx government put in place – to visit in a safe way. It seems inconsistent and unfair; the risk comes from someone travelling from the UK to the Island (whether they are a Manx resident or not).
‘If anything, Manx residents who travel to the UK are highly likely to be visiting (and staying overnight) with friends and family so in close contact with others and at risk of picking up the virus. And yet, because of the restrictions in the UK, I have been working remotely – and haven’t been inside anyone’s house except my own – since October.’
Another woman told us how she’s been kept away from her partner.
‘I am 54 years old and I met my partner during TT 2011. We have maintained a long distance relationship since then. Since he retired three years ago (he is 63) he spends about 40% plus of his time here. The reason he doesn’t move here is that he shares the care of his 94 year old mum and I don’t want to get married for very specific and personal reasons, but we are completely committed to one another.
‘Since he went home in March we have only seen each other for eight days in September when I took advantage of the seven day testing to visit him in the UK. We have been patient and compliant with all the rules and applied for him to come for Christmas and stay until the end of February and we were refused and had our appeal refused too.
‘They used the rule that partners are not allowed, but if we were married or had a civil partnership but still lived apart then he could come here, as long as he isolated. (I live alone and can move into my sons house so he can isolate in my house).
‘What upsets me the most is that a Manx person living in the UK can bring their non Manx partner with them. Even if they have never lived on the Isle of Man but just because they cohabitate – in the UK. But my partner who is here 40% plus of the year, spending his money on the island is refused.
‘As you can see I am very upset about this and think that he should have been allowed to come – under the rules they can make exceptions and I truly don’t understand why he wasn’t granted permission to come.’