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Canada working to address issues at mandatory quarantine hotels after reports of discord, confusion

Last Updated Mar 1, 2021 at 11:43 am PDT

The federal government government says it is working with authorized hotels to address the growing number of stories of travellers facing chaotic conditions when they arrive for their mandatory three-day hotel quarantine after flying into Canada.

One example out of one quarantine hotel in Toronto, where travellers left their rooms and headed to the- lobby to demand food and water after waiting hours for their meals to arrive.

Arunthia Urmi, who had to travel outside Canada to be with her ill father, stayed at another hotel and says she faced similar issues. When she finally got her meal, it was a small piece of salmon.

“There was no water. There was no fork or knife, no utensils. No salt or pepper. Nothing,” she said.

Urmi says she waited so long for a meal she felt she had to break quarantine rules just to get service.

Others describe a lack of security and confusion among hotel staff.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Health says in a statement they have been informed of a myriad of issues.

“We’re aware of reports that some travellers have experienced issues with food and accommodation at government-authorized hotels during their mandatory 3-night hotel stopover,” they said in an email.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada is working directly with hotel partners to find solutions to these issues.”

The opposition Conservatives are doubling down on their calls the feds suspend the hotel quarantine system, a call that began after an alleged sexual assault that took place at a quarantine hotel on February 17.

“It’s fair to say that this is a violation of Canadians’ rights,” said Conservative critic Michelle Rempel Garner. “The federal government should be ashamed of themselves.”

Gogul Kumar, who flew to Vancouver this week from India to start a new job, said he spent hours on hold on the phone only to be disconnected each time. Some calls lasted as long as 10 hours and were never answered by an agent, he said.

The hotel requirement went into effect last Monday, as the federal government cracks down on non-essential travel amid increasing concern about more infectious variants of COVID-19.

Flights on Canadian airlines to sun destinations have been suspended until April 30, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging Canadians to postpone their vacation plans.

Under the new program, travellers must show proof of a three-day hotel booking before boarding their flight to Canada.

The list of hotels has been expanded and some of the hotels now offer direct online booking for government-authorized accommodation. For all others, the Public Health Agency of Canada asks that everyone identify that you require accommodation for the COVID-19 mandatory 3-night stopover to ensure you are booked correctly.

You can also reserve and pay for your mandatory 3-night hotel stopover through GB Travel Canada Inc.:

  • 1-800-294-8253 (toll-free within North America)
  • 1-613-830-2992 (collect outside of North America)