An American woman who travelled to the UK to assist her closely pregnant daughter has claimed she was told to go again to the US by border officers at Heathrow on the grounds that her journey was not “essential”.

The 63-year-old woman, who had flown in from Washington DC on Monday, mentioned she was diminished to tears by the hostile expertise at passport management.

“I was so upset that I couldn’t help but start crying,” mentioned Yoshie Rymar. “The agent told me to go to the ticketing counter to get a return ticket and go back to US. I couldn’t believe what I heard, and I didn’t know what to do.”

The Japanese-born American citizen had visited her daughter on quite a few events earlier than and didn’t count on to be rejected.

“When I received within the line on the passport management part, there was a really handsome woman in entrance of me whose course of was fast. So I anticipated the identical manner when my flip got here. However, I was carrying a black-knit cap, glasses and a masks to defend myself. I was told to take these off because it was exhausting for us to talk. He was irritated by my request to repeat his query.

“I explained how my daughter needed me because of her pregnancy and toddler. There was an agent next to him who was talking loud and my hearing was not so great, he was pretty irritated again. So he said to me, ‘How can you take care of your daughter if you can’t hear well?’ I thought it was a very harsh comment and I resented this rude remark.”

She was requested if she had been examined for coronavirus and was then refused entry. She was not given a cause aside from the official making it clear her journey was “non-essential”, her daughter mentioned.

Colin Yeo, an immigration barrister, mentioned so far as he was conscious there was no requirement in legislation to display a journey was important earlier than authorized entry to the UK.

The solely travel advice the government has issued relates to British residents abroad, with an replace following the virus outbreak advising UK nationals travelling overseas to return home.

“There has been no publicly announced change to the entry rules into the United Kingdom, as far as I am aware, and refusing a family member entry as a visitor because their travel is considered non-essential on the face of it looks unlawful,” Yeo mentioned.

Rymar’s daughter, Rachel, who’s married and lives in London, mentioned her mom was left distraught on the airport.

“I don’t suppose I’ve ever heard her so upset. She was sobbing and I was too.

“She landed and phoned to say she was looking forward to seeing me and a half-hour later she called to say she was being sent back,” Rachel mentioned. “She was not given any paperwork to signal or given any causes in writing however was told it was not important journey and he or she ought to go again to the BA desk and return to the US on the following flight.

“I am still upset. I am glad she’s back home and safe but it was a very bad day. Both of us were very distraught and now I’m scrambling round to try to put another plan in place,” she mentioned.

“She was only going to stay here for a maximum of five months, well within the six months allowable – her return was for September.”


The case renews the query of what police and border authorities are legally entitled to do throughout the coronavirus disaster.

Two weeks in the past the previous supreme court docket justice Lord Sumption criticised Derbyshire police for stopping individuals exercising within the Peak District, saying such behaviour risked plunging Britain right into a “police state”.

Rymar mentioned she needed to share her story to be sure that nobody else suffered as she had, and to pressure the federal government to make clear what it meant by important journey.

The Home Office confirmed that there have been no additional restrictions because of the coronavirus on individuals getting into the nation lawfully and passengers had been nonetheless being processed on the few flights into the nation.

It mentioned it couldn’t touch upon particular person instances. “Our approach to tackling coronavirus is driven by the latest scientific and medical advice,” a spokesman mentioned. “In line with that advice, Border Force officers continue to process arriving passengers in accordance with the immigration rules at ports across the UK.”

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