“This isn’t about tourism, it’s about love”

European borders are opening up, but many countries remain out of bounds. It’s been a torrid time for those of us in long distance relationships.  Hannah Maes has been separated from her girlfriend for many months.  They've been an item for a year and a half, but Hannah lives in Flanders and her partner is a New Yorker.

It’s been since January that they have seen each other in the flesh.

“What gets me” says Hannah “in this whole discussion about borders, everybody is talking about tourism.  This isn’t about tourism, it’s about love. It pains me to hear people can now easily get away on holiday, when all I want to do is drink coffee with my girlfriend in the mornings.”

“Long distance relationships aren’t easy at the best of times; we’ve all experienced a bizarre and scary period.  My relationship has been made 10,000 times more complicated because we haven’t been offered any light at the end of the tunnel.”

Hannah insists a balance should be struck between public health and being able to visit your partner.  For her visits like that are as essential as many other activities.  She’s even prepared to pay for her own corona test and stay in quarantine for a while.

There are literally thousands of couples like Hannah.  Because they are not married, they can’t visit each other or get a tourist visa, because such trips are ‘non-essential’.

Couples in Hannah’s predicament are posting on social media under #LoveIsEssential and #LoveIsNotTourism. They are now even getting support from the European home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson.

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