New Brunswick's isolation hotel program under review with calls to scrap it entirely

As officials meet this weekend to review New Brunswick’s isolation hotel program, one opposition leader is calling for it to be eliminated.

“I know what I would like to see, to have the program scrapped and go back to what we were doing before,” says People’s Alliance leader Kris Austin.

Austin says the program, meant to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants, isn’t necessary because only a small parentage of travellers disobey quarantine orders.

Austin says having additional home check-ins by enforcement officers would address concerns about travellers skipping isolation.

The meetings being held this weekend are typical for any type of crisis initiative according to the Canadian Red Cross, a partner in the program.

“If there was any gap for example that was identified, or certainly an opportunity for improvement somewhere, then we would be able to implement that relatively early in the week coming,” says Bill Lawlor, the Canadian Red Cross’ provincial director in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The hotel isolation program is already different from what was introduced three weeks ago.

The provincial government says travellers may be eligible for an exemption if they can ensure they’ll be at a location with no other human contact for 14 days.

Otherwise, all leisure and non-essential travellers coming into New Brunswick are required to stay in a designated hotel for at least five days. On day five, the traveller is given a COVID-19 test.

If the test returns negative, the traveler can finish the rest of their isolation at home on the condition they take another test on day 10.

Travelers are responsible for the cost of their hotel isolation room, at around $200 a day.

Several hotels that were part of the program have dropped out, citing concerns brought forth by other customers.

The Delta in Fredericton is no longer a designated isolation hotel after five COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the building, with another 10 cases listed as close contacts.