The World Forum - April 22nd, 2024

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Future of COVID hotel-jails for travelers unclear


Paging Patty Hadju — come out, come out wherever you are.

After all, it’s four days from the scheduled end of the two-month hotel quarantine program and international travellers still have no clue whether it will be extended.

Evidently either do the bureaucrats at Health Canada.

I reached out to them Monday to ask about a possible extension and was informed repeatedly over four days that they were overwhelmed with media requests and couldn’t get to mine.

Finally, I received a non-answer on Friday from a spokesman, Anna Madison.

She indicated that the federal order in council that forces travellers arriving at four Canadian airports from international destinations to quarantine in a government-mandated hotel for three daysis ineffect from Feb. 14 until April 21 (11:59:59 pm EST).

“It may be amended or renewed as required to protect Canadians,” Madison said.

There was no further indication when that might happen or for how long.

But some members on a GAA Hotel Quarantine Facebook group have written that some hotels are not taking any reservations beyond April 22.

Others say they’re hedging their bets and not booking their hotels just yet.

If one were to apply a bit of common sense to the whole situation, the hotel quarantine program should be allowed to end on April 21.

It has been an utter mess from the get-go and has convinced many travellers to travel through land borders to avoid quarantining in a COVID jail.

It has caught very few cases.

A spokesman for SwitchHealth told me earlier this week that only about 1.2% of the tests they’ve done have come back positive for COVID.

It is punitive, denies the constitutional rights of travellers and accomplishes nothing that couldn’t be carried out by quarantining at one’s home. In fact, it is more dangerous to quarantine at a hotel, where those who’ve stayed have reported lengthy check-in lineup and limited cleaning measures.

As I reported this week, a Toronto man returned from Pakistan on March 2 and tested positive for COVID five days after he was released from the quarantine hotel. Syed Shah then gave the virus to five members of his family. He suspects he caught COVID at the hotel.

But the fines for not going are outrageous.

Hannah Rockman’s husband, David, refused to go to a hotel after returning from Israel fully vaccinated near the end of March. Peel Regional Police issued him a $3,750 fine.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is trying to fight the hotel quarantine and the fines in court on the grounds that both are unconstitutional.