Hundreds of travellers housed by federal government since quarantines mandated

Since the government began enforcing a mandatory self-isolation on travellers returning from abroad, 330 travellers have spent their 14 days inside one of the 14 federally-run quarantine sites because they did not have a viable plan or place to go.

As of last Wednesday, 151 travellers were currently still in one of these facilities, according to Health Canada.

These figures do not include the hundreds of Canadians that the government quarantined in Trenton or Cornwall, Ont. after they were repatriated from Wuhan, China or from aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship earlier on in the pandemic.

The department said that it cannot disclose the precise locations of the 14 federally-designated quarantine sites or federally supported self-quarantine lodgings, citing traveler privacy and safety.

CTVNews.ca has requested the total cost to cover these accommodations for the travellers who need them, but the department has yet to provide that information.

On March 25, the federal government announced that all travellers returning home to Canada must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days under the federal Quarantine Act.

Travellers who arrived at one of the four airports now allowed to handle international passengers and planned to fly onwards have had to isolate for 14 days in the city they land in, with the federal government providing accommodations and meals.

Further, travellers have been forbidden from self-isolating in a place where they may come into contact with vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions, so the Public Health Agency of Canada has been making alternative accommodations for those individuals.

Then on April 14, the government toughened its rules, announcing that anyone returning to Canada from abroad would have to have a “credible quarantine plan” or be forced to spend 14 days in isolation in a “quarantine location,” such as a hotel.

As of last week, the RCMP had not made any charges related to the enforcement of the Quarantine Act, which has also seen health officials and police following up with travellers to ensure they are complying with the need to self-isolate for two weeks upon returning to Canada.

TRAVELLERS WITH SYMPTOMS?

Relatedly, CTVNews.ca asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office how many Canadian travellers had been banned from boarding domestic flights because they showed COVID-19 symptoms, and how many Canadian travellers had been prohibited from flying for not having a non-medical face mask since that new measure came into effect, but the department said it does not know. 

In an emailed response, departmental senior communications adviser Alexandre Desjardins said that “Transport Canada does not collect information on travellers who have been refused boarding due to COVID-19 symptoms nor on travellers who have been prohibited from flying for not having a non-medical face mask,” continuing to say it is incumbent on the airlines to conduct these checks and verify whether a passenger shows signs of COVID-19.

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