Even so, the government was unable to provide CBC News with a total number of people who broke its rule that passengers entering Canada must be tested for COVID-19 and then quarantined in a hotel pending their arrival. results. And when the CBC attempted to trace the total number of quarantine violators in hotels, it found no evidence of fines imposed on passengers who landed in Calgary or Montreal – two of the four cities, along with Vancouver and Toronto. , where international flights are permitted. land during the pandemic.
Over 500 tickets for people who have landed in Toronto and Vancouver
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News last week it was “aware” that 513 tickets had been issued to air passengers who arrived in Toronto or Vancouver between February 22. and April 25 and refused to go to a quarantine hotel. The agency said that in these towns, PHAC officers and police can issue tickets.
PHAC said the rules are different in Calgary and Montreal, so check with local authorities for ticket statistics. CBC did so and found no indication that any of them had been issued.
But that doesn’t mean that all travelers arriving in these two cities have obeyed the rules. CBC News interviewed several passengers who said they recently landed in Montreal or Calgary, refused to self-quarantine at a hotel and have not yet been fined.
“I am sure that the [police] have better things to do, “said snowbird Allan Prout of Yorkton, Sask., who flew to Calgary from Puerto Vallarta on April 26.” I mean there are real criminals out there. -low. I am not a criminal. ”
Prout said he refused to check into a quarantine hotel because of the price – up to $ 2,000 – and because he wanted to do his full 14-day quarantine at home.
“I think I’m just as safe to bring my ass home and sit here for two weeks,” he said.
Prout said he was told by a government official at the airport that his name would be passed on to the RCMP, but that no one had fined him so far.
“No visitation, no phone call, nothing at all. “
‘It’s my right’
The federal government hotel quarantine requirement went into effect on February 22 to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Passengers can leave the hotel and complete their 14-day quarantine at home when and if their COVID-19 test results are negative. Those with positive results are transferred to another quarantine hotel.
Between February 22 and April 23, 1.9% of the 168,887 airline passengers who tested for COVID-19 after entering Canada tested positive, PHAC said.
Synthia Vignola flew to Montreal from Colombia on March 21. Vignola said she refused to go to a quarantine hotel because she felt more secure in quarantine at her home in Sainte-Marthe, Que.
“I have no reason to go to a hotel with other people when I live in the countryside[side], alone, ”she said.
In a video shot by Vignola at the Montreal airport, a man – whom she identified as a PHAC agent – told her in French that she would be fined in the mail for refusing to take action. quarantine in a hotel.
Six weeks later, Vignola said his fine had not yet arrived.
“I’m not surprised,” she said. “It is my right to return to my country without any restriction. ”
Meanwhile, several passengers who landed in Vancouver and Toronto said they were immediately airport ticket for refusing to quarantine in a hotel.
On April 2, Kent Saunders – a dual Canadian-U.S. Citizen living in Las Vegas – flew to Vancouver and said he informed a PHAC officer at the airport that he was heading directly to a friend in quarantine.
The officer gave him a ticket for $ 3,450 ($ 3,000 plus additional charges) at the airport.
« [The PHAC officer said] “I think we’re going to write you a ticket,” Saunders said. “Another 15 minutes, she came back with a ticket and I left. “
Vancouver infectious disease specialist Dr Srinivas Murthy said the best way to enforce public health measures is to keep the rules simple and consistent.
“If you don’t apply it for everyone, then it becomes kind of a useless program,” Murthy said.
CBC News asked PHAC why its officers were not issuing tickets for quarantine violators at Montreal and Calgary airports.
The agency responded that in Quebec and Alberta, quarantine fines fall under provincial jurisdiction and told CBC News to check with provincial and municipal authorities on the number of fines imposed.
In another email exchange, PHAC spokeswoman Anne Génier said the agency “does not have the total number of travelers refusing to quarantine in a [hotel]. «
In Alberta, the RCMP and Calgary Police each said they had imposed no fines in connection with the hotel quarantine requirement.
Calgary Police spokeswoman Emma Poole said that because Alberta never adopted the Contraventions Act – which allows police to coerce people into federal offenses – Calgary Police can only investigate a person who has refused to quarantine in a hotel if a PHAC officer files a complaint.
“If someone is okay with PHAC and leaves the airport in a pleasant way without checking in at their hotel and PHAC doesn’t file a complaint, we can’t follow through,” said Poole. in an email.
In Quebec, fines are imposed by provincial prosecutors, PHAC said.
However, the Quebec director of criminal and penal prosecutions said he had not issued any fines related to the quarantine requirement in hotels.
And Quebec’s health ministry told CBC News that the federal government, not the province, is responsible for enforcing Canada’s travel rules.
The CBC informed PHAC that it had found no evidence of a hotel quarantine fine imposed on passengers who landed in Montreal and Calgary.
When asked if this was of concern, PHAC reiterated that Alberta and Quebec have different methods of issuing banknotes.