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Whitstable woman pleads ‘I need to see my mum before she forgets who I am or dies’

A woman from Whitstable is worried she won’t be able to see her 92-year-old mother abroad before it’s too late.

Karien Downes, a vaccinator from the seaside town hasn’t seen her mum, who lives in the Netherlands, since August 2020 and says she has been unable to visit her as regularly due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Karien would usually drive from England to the Netherlands every two months to spend time with her widowed mother however she has been able to for the last year.

Do I have to wait until she’s on her death bed?

The current restrictions make it illegal to travel abroad to see family members, even if they’re in an unwell state.

Frustrated and concerned, Karien says “I need to go see my mum before she forgets who I am or worse, dies.

“Traveling by car means we are in our ‘own bubble’ with minimal risk to anyone – Do I have to wait until she’s on her death bed?”

Due to vaccination rules, Karien must wait yet more time to travel as the wait times between the first and the second vaccination are longer than a month.

She said: “Now it transpires that in order to be able to travel to the EU you need to be fully vaccinated, two weeks ahead of travel.

“As my second injection is not due till May 28th at its earliest, this pushes my going to see my mum further back yet again, by another 6 weeks.

“You can travel in ‘special circumstances’ which are unspecified. When does it become necessary for me to see my mother? Do I have to wait until she’s on her death bed? It is a possibility.”

Due to her mother’s age, Karien says she has to make the most of the time they have together: “I very much hope to get some quality time in with her before we get to that point, but at nearly 92 things can change at any point.”

“Knowing that all other people are in the same boat makes it easier to bear – I am by no means the only one!”

Currently  the Government’s website reasonable excuses to travel are: work, volunteering, education, medical or visits to provide care, weddings or civil partnerships, funerals, non-UK resident who has been in the UK temporarily, including transit passengers and elite sports.

As restrictions begin to lift across the UK, the Whitstable local must continue to wait and abide by government and medical guidance.

Karien continued: “At this point I feel that each week is now one too many. At the moment I would be safe to travel and to not be able to do so is annoying and frustrating.”

Karien only has one brother, who is working abroad and doesn’t get to see her often either.

Mrs Downes said she agreed and is “very happy” with the “necessary” restrictions, however believes that “necessary family visits are a whole other ball game than lazing on a beach somewhere hot.”

She added: “I would like to see the distinction made between family visits and holidays – and have different rules for those, with family visits decidedly prioritised!

“If you can travel safely in your own car after the first vaccine, with ongoing current negative tests, to people who have been fully vaccinated, we should be allowed to go.”

Karien reiterates that she is “happy to wait” to go on holiday and that flying somewhere for a holiday is currently not a priority.

“If it wasn’t for my mum we wouldn’t be traveling outside the UK this year at all” she says.