Sunday,  September 20, 2020  9:12 am

Ontario man charged for failing to self-isolate after travelling to the U.S.


Ontario man charged for failing to self-isolate after travelling to the U.S.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

A 41-year-old man from Chatham, ON, has been fined $1,130 for failing to self-isolate after returning from a trip to Florida.

Police in Chatham-Kent have charged the unidentified man for failing to comply with an order, contrary to section 58 of the federal Quarantine Act, which rules that all travellers arriving in Canada, by law, must isolate themselves for 14 days.

The mandatory ruling was introduced by Canada’s federal government in March as an additional measure to halt the spread of COVID-19, and to “provide clarity” for those re-entering Canada about the essential need to self-isolate.

READ MORE: Self-isolation is now mandatory for individuals entering Canada

According to reports, police in Chatham-Kent say they received a tip last week that a man returning to Canada from Florida was ignoring his duty to self-isolate after returning from the U.S., where COVID-19 cases are nearing the 4.5 million mark.

The man, notably, had visited Florida, which has emerged as the world’s latest coronavirus epicentre. 

According to CBC News, the man travelled from Florida to Canada on July 10th, flying through Pearson airport in Toronto. Under the Quarantine Act, he would have been required to self-isolate until July 24th.

Rather than follow the rules and self-isolate, the man not only potentially exposed his family and friends, but also his community to the COVID-19 virus, reports say.

"It is certainly unfortunate and disheartening that anyone would place themselves and more importantly others at risk by not following the simple direction provided to them in respect to self-quarantine," said Chatham Police Chief Gary Conn, in a statement. "In order for us to mitigate this pandemic, a collaborative approach is going to be required by all of us and I would please request that everyone does their part to ensure this occurs."

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit is further investigating the matter, reports say.

Time to rethink Canada's quarantine rules?

The call to ease Canada's quarantine rules has been a topic of debate within Canada's travel industry in recent weeks. 

The argument is that there are countries, unlike the U.S., that have managed to control their coronavirus situation and, therefore, people should be able to travel there without having to self-isolate for two weeks upon returning home. 

Earlier this month, Air Canada's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Chung issued a letter urging the Canadian government to consider a science-based approach to easing the Quarantine Act restrictions to strike a better balance for travellers and for the Canadian economy without adversely impacting public health.

Air Canada, it should be noted, isn't asking for relaxed border restrictions with the United States. 

Rather, it's a call to replace the quarantine requirements for those countries with a low COVID-19 risk from a public health perspective with more proportionate, evidence-based measures and experiences from other countries.

Other G20 countries have introduced measures that allow for travel while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 exposure. 

This includes protocols such as determining safe corridors or travel between approved jurisdictions with fewer COVID-19 cases (as seen in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and others), the requirement for a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country (as seen in the Caribbean), a waiver of quarantine requirements following a negative test upon arrival (such as in Iceland, Austria, and Luxembourg), and mandatory testing on arrival (such as in South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, and United Arab Emirates, for example)


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