More than 500 travellers fined for refusing hotel quarantines in Toronto and Vancouver
You shall not pass... through Canadian border security when landing at one of the country's four major airports without first submitting to a mandatory, three-day-long quarantine period at a government-approved hotel.
And if you do pass? Prepare to pay up.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has revealed to CBC News that it is aware of at least 513 tickets being issued to travellers who defied hotel quarantine rules after arriving by plane in either Toronto or Vancouver between February 22 and April 15.
CBC reports that the fines were "typically for $3,000 each," in which case those who blatantly flouted federal laws actually got off pretty easy: The maxmimum financial penalty for violating Canada's Quarantine Act is $750,000, with the potential of up to six months in prison.
If someone is found to have lied about quarantining and then subsequently passed the virus onto someone else, seriously impacting that person's health, penalties go up to $1 million plus three years in the clink.
Close the airports. Close the borders. My god this isn’t hard. Just a complete mess— C (@CRowe009) May 4, 2021
Of course, those who were fined for skipping mandatory quarantines in Vancouver and Toronto may feel a bit slighted compared to air passengers in Montreal and Calgary, where CBC News reports that zero tickets have been doled out for violating quarantine rules.
While both police officers and public health officials can issue tickets in Toronto and Vancouver, PHAC said that "the rules are different in Calgary and Montreal," referring to who can enforce them.
Calgary police can only investigate someone for refusing quarantine, for instance, if a PHAC officer launches a formal complaint. Quebec's Ministry of Health said that enforcing hotel quarantine rules isn't its responsibility, but that of the federal government.
Whatever the case, it's frustrating, especially considering how many people with COVID have travelled to Canada lately.
Ontario recently called on the federal government to crack down on travel rules by requiring three-day hotel quarantines at land borders, and Premier Doug Ford went so far as to say last week that he'd shut down Toronto's Pearson International Airport completely if he had the power.
Ontario calls for mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers at land borders https://t.co/0v0t1MHZWv a loophole still open— Klaus Bower (@klsbower) April 30, 2021
This is far from the first we've heard about people trying to skip out on the air travel quarantines in Toronto, whether because of how difficult accomodations have been to book, declarations of personal freedom, or because of the estimated cost (roughly $2,000 for the three-day hotel stay, including a COVID-19 test — if not more.)
Some lawyers in the city have actually even argued that forcing people to quarantine at hotels violates the rights of Canadian citizens.
Regardless, all people landing by air in Canada since February 22 have been legally obliged to stay in an approved hotel for three days while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
Passengers with negative test results can finish their 14-day quarantines at home after three days, while those with positive results are relocated to a different hotel for their full quarantine period.
The best way to avoid any of these situations, or a ticket, is to follow the advice of public health officials and avoid all non-essential travel.
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