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'We're not there yet': Trudeau won't scrap Canada's hotel quarantine after panel recommendation

Last Updated May 28, 2021 at 3:00 pm PDT

A traveller fills out a form while waiting to enter a government-authorized COVID-19 quarantine hotel in Richmond, B.C. on Sunday, February 28, 2021. Travellers arriving in Canada are required to reserve a government-authorized hotel for three nights and stay at the hotel while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test done upon arrival in the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

The report says travel restrictions for a specific country would carry limited value because of the nature of travel.

Some travellers are choosing to pay the fine of up to $3,000 for skipping out on their mandatory hotel stay.

The panel also calls for measures at land and air borders to be “consistent as much as possible.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no signs of getting rid of hotel quarantines even as a federal science panel recommends they scrap the measure completely.

In a one-on-one interview with OMNI, Trudeau says he knows people are anxious to get back to their normal lives and travel once again.

“We’re not there yet and every step of the way we’re going to do the things that are necessary too, first and foremost, keep Canadians safe and prevent us from getting into yet another wave of COVID-19,” he said.

In a lengthy report published Thursday, the federal government expert advisory panel said the measure should be terminated.

“The current requirement for all air travellers to quarantine in government-authorized accommodations should be discontinued,” they wrote.

“However, travellers subject to quarantine must provide a suitable quarantine plan for approval and then adhere to this plan. If the traveller does not have a suitable quarantine plan, they should be required to adhere to an alternative one (for example, in designated quarantine facilities).”

Among the issues raised with Canada’s hotel quarantine measure was cost.

“The current approach to mandatory hotel quarantine is expensive to administer,” they said, adding that the hotel stay provides opportunities for travellers to bypass by paying a fine and is inconsistent with the incubation period of the virus.

The panel also advised that fully vaccinated travellers should no longer need to take a pre-departure test or undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.


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They maintain that Canada should continue to screen positive cases among international travellers for variants of concern and suggest procedures stay in place to ensure that all travellers submit tests and that all positive results are immediately communicated to the local health authority.

The Health Minister says the recommendation from the panel is a good roadmap for the next steps and the Chief Medical Health Officer says decisions will be based on vaccinations and the spread of the virus within our border and in other countries.

“Continue to follow public health orders and reduce our contacts while we’re trying to bring down the case numbers as we’re ending this third wave,” added Trudeau.

“And, mostly, get vaccinated.”