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Coronavirus: Canadian travelers should not be denied entry without quarantine hotel reservations, government says

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SASKATOON – A group of Canadians in Zimbabwe were denied a flight to Canada after they spent hours unsuccessfully trying to book a hotel-authorized hotel stay, an incident that Transport Canada now says should not have happened.

We prayed one [airline] help desk agent Nicola Dawson, who has spent the past five years living in Zimbabwe caring for her ailing grandparents, told CTVNews.ca by telephone on Tuesday.

Dawson was one of roughly 10 other passengers, including at least three other Canadians and several UK nationals, who were unable to board an Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Toronto on Monday.

Fortunately for Dawson and her travel companion, they managed to convince the airline to book their flight for this week. She had to pay $ 400 in additional travel costs back and forth from the airport and for additional COVID-19 tests in Zimbabwe. But she says the crossing ban has filled her with anxiety about not getting home, as she faces the uncertainty of being able to book a hotel room in time for her next flight.

However, Transport Canada told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday that Dawson and other Canadians on her flight should not have been denied boarding, noting that air carriers are not required to verify that a passenger has hotel reservations before boarded a flight to Canada, nor are they asked to deny the passenger boarding in case the person has not been able to book.

In an email, senior spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu said airport staff would notify passengers who needed to provide Canada Public Health Agency proof of booking their hotel in advance, and the air carrier should also notify passengers that they may be punishable by a fine without reservation “if this requirement applies to them and they fail to comply with it”.

As of Monday, travelers returning to Canada are required to take a COVID-19 test after landing and spend the first three days of quarantine in a supervised hotel while awaiting their results – both at their own expense.

But since the booking process opened last Thursday, travelers and their families have waited up to nine hours trying to make a reservation through a government phone number, with many unable to get through at all.

We understand the frustrations of those who had long waited to book a room. But we are improving these statistics, these figures, said Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc during a ministerial press conference on Tuesday.

The government is now strongly insisting that only those with flights in the next 48 hours should call the reservation line, noting that a significant portion of calls over the weekend were to book hotel rooms in March and April, the agency said. of Public Health Canada CTVNews. ca via email.

Since booking hotlines opened last week, Sister Dawsons, her mother and her sisters’s husband have all tried to reach an agent to no avail.

I think the Government of Canada really dropped the ball here, Dawsons sister Laurelle told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview from Pickering, Ont. on Monday. You have citizens who are doing their best to follow the rules, but you do not have the tools in order.

Dawson said she had hoped the pasture would be allowed to fly from Harare International Airport to Zimbabwe and deal with Canadian officials to book a room once it touches Toronto.

We have the choice to be able to go home because things are getting worse and we want to be in a safe environment at this very, very scary time, she said, adding that it is extremely painful to leave family behind in Zimbabwe .

Many nervous travelers, unable to book a room from list of government-sanctioned hotels, told CTVNews.ca they were worried they were not in the same position as Dawson. But although the Dawsons specific airline stopped passengers in Canada, the government actually expects at least some passengers to arrive in Canada despite the lack of hotel reservation.

As of February 22, 2021, travelers arriving at the airport without a hotel reservation will be referred to a government tracking officer, Tammy Jarbeau, senior spokeswoman for Canada Public Health Agency, told CTVNews.ca via email.

MEETING CALLS ARE DISCRIMINATIVE: DAWSON

Dawson said the overall message from the government should be clearer, noting that if Canada’s public guidelines affirm airlines should ensure that passengers have negative COVID-19 tests and have a booked hotel, agents in other countries will find it difficult to regulate the rules, she said.

If adequate communication is sent to airlines, then the people who are booking are not treated as a kind of criminal for trying to return to their country, she said.

Dawson said the government, in some ways, also ignores the plight of diaspora who are traveling back and forth to our countries to care for elderly relatives.

She explained the call number for those outside of North America does not take into account that full-time waiting hours cost over $ 63 each time and may not lead to a successful hotel reservation.

It is biased and discriminatory for those in foreign countries, and those of us in Africa are feeling its burden, she explained. We operate more in the prepaid system.

Be prepared to pay for hotels: GOV’T

Dawson, like several others who emailed CTVNews.ca, claims that the hotel quarantine hits the wallets of lower-income travelers the hardest.

So far, the government is only covering the cost of hotels for newly arrived refugees and Canadian Olympic hopes, with the only ones being exempted from hotel quarantine, essential workers, cross-border workers and those receiving medical treatment all of whom were already exempt from quarantine 14 -ditore.

Unaccompanied minors are also excluded from the hotel quarantine, as well as those with compassionate circumstances, such as those attending a funeral – if they receive government approval.

“People should be prepared for the additional costs of quarantining in a federal facility for up to three days,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu noted on Friday, explaining that the government has no control over the price of the room, which is set by the hotel.



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