Canada’s travel community and travellers now have an answer to one of the last remaining questions swirling around the issue of Ottawa’s new mandatory hotel quarantine policy.
Even while many agents and travellers have found it impossible to book one of the officially designated quarantine hotels, some pax have been denied boarding aircraft returning to Canada. The Canadian government now says that is not allowed.
CTV News reported Tuesday that several Canadians returning from Zimbabwe weren’t permitted to board their aircraft. The report questioned Transport Canada, which responded that “air carriers are not required to verify that a traveller has a hotel reservation before boarding a flight to Canada, nor are they required to deny that traveller boarding in the event that person has been unable to book.”
There is a potential penalty, however.
A spokesperson for the agency, Sau Sau Liu, sent an email to CTV that said airport staff were obliged to tell passengers that they had to provide evidence of a prepaid hotel reservation to the Public Health Agency of Canada upon arrival – and if they didn’t have one, the passengers could face a fine.
The mandatory quarantine hotel stay is part of a new requirement for travellers entering Canada to submit to a COVID-19 test began on Monday. As part of the process, travellers must spend the first three days of their mandatory 14-day quarantine at a supervised hotel, at their expense, while they wait for their test results. So far, the only way to book the hotels is through a toll-free number that has been overwhelmed with calls to the point that people have to wait for hours before getting through, if at all.
There is a very limited number of exemptions from the quarantine hotel requirement. The list includes unaccompanied minors and patients getting treatment abroad, as well as foreign diplomats and their families.
In a CBC report, Anna Banerji, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the diplomatic exemption isn’t a smart approach to a pandemic, calling it a “vulnerability gap.”