Travelers Discover Loophole For Canada Hotel Quarantine Before It Even Starts

by SharonKurheg

As the 2019 Novel Coronavirus continues, and especially with new variants that are more transmissible and deadly, different countries have begun different ways to make travel in/out of said country safer for public health and more, shall we say, inconvenient.

The U.S., for example, is now requiring travelers from other nations to present a negative COVID-19 test upon entry if arriving via airplane. New Zealand is keeping its borders closed until its citizens are “vaccinated and protected.” And effective February 15th, the U.K. now requires international travelers to quarantine in a hotel for 10 nights.

Canada is in the midst of planning its own hotel quarantine mandate as well. Effective February 22nd, air travelers returning from non-essential trips abroad will have to isolate in a federally mandated facility for up to 72 hours while they wait for the results of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

After they fly in, they’ll have to stay at a hotel in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal for 3 nights, at their own expense, which will be estimated to be roughly $2,000 (Canadian) per person (the price includes room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, security and transportation). This is on top of the mandatory 14-day quarantine at home or hotel that’s been in place for months.

“We’re trying to keep people safe and keeping Canadians safe from the viruses and discouraging all nonessential travel and ensuring that if people do have to travel, they’re doing the things that we can be certain are going to prevent the virus from spreading,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Some clever Canadians are already thinking of ways to circumvent the new rules.

Although these mandates will affect those entering Canada via air, they don’t affect those arriving by land. And although the land borders are closed except for essential personnel (think truck drivers and health care workers) and those driving to Alaska (who have their own rules to deal with), the country won’t close its gates to Canadian citizens.

So some wily Canadians who have been in the U.S. plan to drive back home and cross the border by land instead of flying.

The CBC interviewed Brian and Anne Cross, who are snowbirds from Ontario who have spent the past several months in  Arizona. From the CBC:

If the hotel quarantine rule is still in effect when Cross, 63, and Anne, 61, return home in April, he said they plan to fly to Buffalo instead of Toronto. Then they’ll take a cab to the Rainbow Bridge land border crossing at Niagara Falls, N.Y., and walk across the border to Niagara Falls, Ont.

Cross said a couple of friends have agreed to drive his car to the Canadian side of the border and leave it there for him.

“We’ll just pick it up and drive home,” he said. “Common sense says, well, let’s do the path of least resistance, right? If I can save 4,000 bucks, why wouldn’t I do it?” 

As opposed to a relatively easy 4 major airports the country will use for incoming flights, there are 117 land borders, many of which are in remote or rural areas and not near hotels. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair suggested that having the same requirements for the relatively small number of leisure travelers entering by land would be too difficult.

“I think there will be ways in which we will find to manage those individuals, but, quite frankly, what we are urging Canadians to do right now is not travel,” said Blair.

Feature Photo: Glabb / Wikimedia

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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