Canada’s pronounced quarantine rules, requiring international travelers by air to partake in a mandatory three-day stay at a government-approved hotel facility, are apparently not being endorsed by all travelers.
Police at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson Airport (YYZ) are reporting that some travelers are blatantly refusing the hotel-stay. In response to the violation, uncompliant travelers are being handed a fine of $880, a sum undoubtedly less than the cost of a three-day hotel stay.
Upon reception of the fine, the travelers are free to leave the airport and go wherever they please.
The police have explicitly stated that they will not detain any traveler for breaking the hotel quarantine rule, except in circumstances in which the traveler commits a criminal offence.
Accordingly, Peel Regional Police spokesperson, Akhil Mooken stated:
“Unless there are some serious or aggravating circumstances where the public safety is at risk, we are not … detaining individuals who are not complying with the regulations under the Quarantine Act.”
While the price tag of a $880 fine may carry appeal in contrast to the expenses and burdens of a mandatory hotel-stay, police have advised that offending travelers may still be subject to additional fines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has addressed its awareness of the situation, stating:
“Travellers are legally obligated to follow the instructions of a Screening Officer or Quarantine Officer through the 14-day period, whether in regards to testing, transit to locations, their mandatory hotel stopover or during quarantine at home or other suitable location. If they do not follow the instructions, there are penalties including a maximum fine of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for six months.”
The PHAC further noted that they are looking into the incidents at YYZ, however no additional fines for offending travelers have been reported as yet.
Though instances of hotel quarantine rule violations have been reported in Toronto, corresponding incidents have not been acknowledged or addressed by Canada’s other major airports.
Some Travelers without Hotel Booking Refused from Boarding
While some travelers decided to receive a fine over a mandatory hotel-stay, some other travelers did not have any choice, as they were denied boarding their flights to Canada without prepaid hotel bookings.
Transport Canada has indicated that airlines are not necessarily required to deny boarding to travelers which cannot present confirmed bookings, stating:
“Air carriers are not required to verify that a traveller has a hotel reservations before boarding a flight to Canada, nor are they required to deny that traveller boarding in the event that person has been unable to book.”
Though this may be the case, it appears that communication from the government to all airlines is not completely clear and misinterpretation has occurred in some situations.
The PHAC has further disclosed that travelers returning without prepaid bookings will be referred to a government official for follow-up, and airlines must notify passengers that they may be liable to a fine without a reservation.
Other Ways to Bypass Hotel Quarantine
A fine for violating hotel quarantine rules may not be the only option for unwavering travelers to bypass a mandatory hotel-stay.
Many travelers, especially those returning from the U.S, are choosing to book their return flights to a U.S. city close to the Canadian border, and return to Canada by land.
As the mandatory hotel-quarantine is only subjected to travelers returning to Canada by air, those returning by land borders may effectively skip the requirement without a fine.
While travelers returning by land will still be required to comply with testing and quarantine orders, some argue that it is discriminatory to only require travelers returning by air to the mandatory hotel-stay.
The government has addressed this issue by highlighting that mandating a hotel quarantine at land borders would be incredibly difficult logistically, as access to nearby quarantine hotels is far more feasible at major airports.
To this effect, Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair stated:
“At land borders, we have 117 different points of entry, and many of those points of entry are located in remote, rural areas.”
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com