Family of Kelowna crane collapse victims stranded in quarantine despite travel exemption – .

Family of Kelowna crane collapse victims stranded in quarantine despite travel exemption – .

Flooded with grief, Norbert Stemmer rushed to Canada to provide for his family after discovering that his two nephews had died in the crane collapse that devastated the community of Kelowna, British Columbia, at the start. of the month.
But when Stemmer arrived, he and his 87-year-old mother, both from Germany, were fined over $ 11,000 and forced into mandatory quarantine due to a technical issue with the QR code. on their PCR tests.

Brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer were among the five who died on July 12 after the crane collapsed on a construction site in Kelowna.

“I got a call early in the morning from my brother. He wasn’t able to speak at all and he was yelling and screaming and saying, ‘We’ve lost Patrick and Eric,’ ”Norbert Stemmer told CBC News.

Stemmer says he was devastated when he heard the news. His first reaction, he says, was to jump on a plane to be with his brother in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, as he mourned the loss of his sons.

“They are completely alone. They have no relatives in Canada. They are all in Germany, ”he said.

But because of the pandemic, Stemmer and his mother first had to go through a long process in order to receive the correct documents and book the flight.

Norbert Stemmer’s nephews, Eric and Patrick Stemmer, were both among five people who died on July 12 after the crane collapsed on a construction site. (Submitted by Norbert Stemmer)

Both fully vaccinated with negative COVID-19 tests

Stemmer says it took nearly a week, but he and his mother obtained a quarantine exemption from the Canadian Embassy in Vienna allowing them to enter the country on compassionate grounds.

Before boarding the plane, the couple performed a PCR test which confirmed they were negative for COVID-19. They also took the appropriate papers with them to show that they were both fully vaccinated.

The area surrounding a construction site where the crane collapsed has been evacuated and temporarily closed to the public. (SRC)

But when they landed in Vancouver on July 23, the QR code to prove their testing status did not open on Stemmer’s phone due to a technical glitch in the app.

According to Stemmer, the Public Health Agency of Canada then fined them $ 5,750 each and told them they should stay three nights in hotel quarantine, then complete the remainder of the quarantine by 14. days in isolation with his brother.

CBSA says responsibility lies with the traveler

The Canada Border Services Agency declined CBC’s request to comment on the Stemmer incident, but says travelers must respond to all requirements after obtaining permission to enter Canada for compassionate reasons.

“The onus is on the traveler to clearly demonstrate that they comply with an exemption as prescribed in the Orders in Council,” CBSA spokesperson Jacqueline Callin said in a written statement.

Callin says when questions arise about a traveller’s test documents, border services officers often refer the traveler to a public health official who makes the final decision on next steps.

Stemmer says he and his mother were granted an exemption to leave the house for a day to attend his nephews’ funerals, but that they still had to wear masks and follow physical distancing guidelines during their stay.

“We’re talking from a distance and we’re not allowed to hug or comfort or anything. It’s really hard because the shock is still so deep that there are still so many tears, ”said Stemmer.

“We had strong ties”

He says the whole situation has become incredibly frustrating as they just want to support and mourn the loss together as a family.

“I know that with Patrick and Eric, even though there was an ocean between us and our family, we had strong bonds,” he said.

Stemmer says he has many fond memories of his nephews, but most of all, he says he admires the love they both have for their wives.

“They loved each other so much. It has really been so difficult for their poor widows, ”he said.

Stemmer and his mother have six more days in quarantine, but he continues to seek answers and hopes the government will show compassion for their plight.

“I have to fight this ticket because it is an injustice,” he said. “We are two people who have our negative tests, we have all our pictures. It’s ridiculous. “


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