What are these quarantine hotels all about? Are other guests allowed to stay there? Why on earth does it cost $2,000 for three nights?
Canada’s upcoming rule that will require international arrivals to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for a minimum of three days, at their own expense, continues to raise questions.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is leading the implementation of this mandatory protocol, which officials say could take effect as soon as this Thursday (Feb. 4).
Ottawa decided to implement the policy based on Public Health’s advice, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told CTV’s Evan Solomon on Sunday (Jan. 31).
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Friday (Jan. 29), pegged the cost of quarantining in a hotel at $2,000, Minister Alghabra has shed some light onto the eye-popping price, calling it a “ballpark” figure.
‘As we get closer into the implementation in the coming weeks, we will have a much more accurate assessment of the dollar figure and exact locations [of the hotels],” Alghabra told CTV.
Minister Alghabra confirmed that there are other expenses factored into the cost of staying overnight in a government facility, such as added health and security measures.
Food, too, may also be included in the cost, although that has yet to be confirmed.
Quarantine hotels already operating
Quarantine hotels and facilities have been operating in Canada for several months now, paid for by taxpayers.
In August, it was revealed that the Government of Canada had already spent $37 million on hotels for returning Canadians who couldn't self-isolate at home.
At that time, Canada was operating 11 quarantine sites across the country, plus two addition ones run jointly by the federal and provincial governments.
The program, which the government, then, was not publicizing, reportedly included accommodation, meals, transportation, health checks and security.
Most hotels were located near airports and some sites offered 24/7 nursing support.
Be ready on Feb. 4
In an interview on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday, Alghabra asked people “to be prepared as soon as Feb. 4” as that day could mark the start of Canada’s new travel rules – hotel quarantine included.
"I can't tell you if that's exactly when it's going to start, but I would ask people to be ready for it as soon as possible,” Minister Alghabra said.
Canada unveiled tougher travel rules on Friday, which included a promise to introduce mandatory PCR testing at airports, adding to the already-existing pre-departure testing order that took effect Jan. 7.
Travellers will have to wait for up to three days at a government-approved hotel for test results at their own expense.
Those who test negative will be released from their hotel and be allowed to finish their quarantine at home; those with positive tests will have to continuing quarantining in a government facility.
Post-arrival PCR testing will take place at Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal airports, where all international flights have been funnelled since last Wednesday night.
The testing will happen before passengers head to their quarantine hotel, said Alghabra.
Meanwhile, Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat have suspended operations to Mexico and Caribbean until April 30.
Travellers entering Canada by land, in the coming weeks, will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon entry, Trudeau said on Friday.
Although, it is still unclear if land arrivals will be ushered into a hotel in the same fashion as air arrivals.
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