FORT MYERS, Florida – After months of trying to get to the United States, a French resident has returned to her vacation home in Fort Myers. The travel ban preventing her from coming has not been lifted – she has just found another way to make it work.
ABC7 first spoke to Muriel Sasia last November. Sasia hasn’t returned to southwest Florida since March 2020, just before COVID-19 became a pandemic and the world changed.
“I came in February to attend a medical conference in Naples. I took the plane on March 5 and we were confined ten days later in France, ”she said.
Due to the pandemic, many countries have closed their borders. Anyone who has been in certain areas 14 days before entering the United States is not permitted to enter, with a few exceptions. This includes the European Schengen area, of which France is part.
For most travelers, the only way to get around these rules is to travel to another country for two weeks before coming to the United States – a country that does not have these restrictions.
So, that’s exactly what Sasia did. On May 10, she flew from France to Zurich, then to the Dominican Republic.
“So I’m spending a couple of weeks in Punta Cana, which isn’t bad, I’m not complaining, but it wasn’t my plan,” Sasia said.
After a two week layover there, she was on her way to Florida, landing in Fort Lauderdale.
“I wanted to do it, but I was ready for immigration to tell me not to go back,” she said.
When Sasia landed, it was time to put her plan to the test.
She passed the first immigration checkpoint at the airport. When she had to go through customs, things got a little scary.
“They dragged me to these rooms, specific rooms for special recordings. The guy said straight away ‘when did you leave France?’ I said on the 10th that he said you were fine, said Sasia.
All she had to show was a stamp in her passport stating that she had been in Punta Cana for 14 days before entering the United States.
“That was it but, woah!” She said.
Sasia is fully vaccinated. She provided proof both on an app used in France and on paper, but said she never needed to show either.
“It doesn’t have to be, so they said ‘this is good for you, but we don’t need this,’” Sasia said.
The only time Sasia needed to show anything that wasn’t needed before the pandemic was when she had to show a COVID-19 PCR test result, which was required by the Swiss government when she was flew from Paris to Zurich.
When asked what the hardest part of getting to Fort Myers is, Sasia said she decides whether or not to do it.
“Everyone told me ‘you are crazy, you are the fool we know, you are adventurous, you just bend the rules’, i said no i am not,” said Sasia.
She carefully read the American travel ban proclamation and finally decided it was time to take the trip, even if it involved a long detour in her plans.
“It’s been too long. Really, I thought at one point with the vaccine, they’d say okay, let’s reopen the borders, you know,” she said.
Now Sasia can see her family and friends who live in America and enjoy her home away from home for the first time since before the pandemic.
“To see them, it was possible to hug each other. It’s wonderful, it is. I’m so happy to be here, ”said Sasia.
Sasia plans to stay in Fort Myers for a month and then return to France. She said she will have to go through Punta Cana, but will not have to stay long. She will only have to quarantine herself for a few weeks when she returns to France.
As some countries reopen their borders, others are adding new restrictions.
From this week, France and several other countries will force UK travelers to self-quarantine for a week after entering, due to an increase in new variants of COVID-19 infections in the UK.
Experts said Britain is still fighting the spread of the variant first identified in India. Germany and Australia have also imposed restrictions on travelers from the UK. In addition to that, France has other guidelines, some for American travelers.