Only 1% of international travelers returning to Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 since the country enacted mandatory hotel quarantine in February, according to data released by the Canadian Public Health Agency.
PHAC statistics show that 21,939 returning Canadian travelers received coronavirus tests between February 22 and March 4. Of these travelers, only 267, or 1.2%, tested positive for the virus.
In Ontario, only 0.6% of COVID-19 cases were associated with travel abroad, which is surprising because the province is home to Toronto Pearson International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the country.
In response to more contagious variants of the new coronavirus emerging worldwide, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced tougher travel restrictions on January 29. The new measures included redirecting all international flights to airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, suspending all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico until April 30, additional testing and a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine in an approved facility for everyone international travelers.
Travelers must pay for the hotel’s quarantine, which costs approximately $ 2,000 CAD, themselves. The government had almost 11,500 hotel rooms reserved for the program as of March 6.
The new measures went beyond the COVID-19 pre-shipment tests and 14-day self-isolation requirements that Canada already had in place. Travelers who receive a negative PCR test after three days at an approved hotel can isolate themselves at home for the remaining 11 days of their mandatory quarantine.
Failure to comply with the restrictions can result in imprisonment and fines of up to CAD $ 750,000.
On March 8, the Canadian Constitution Foundation and five Canadian citizens filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s three-day hotel quarantine requirement.
“The hotel’s quarantine policy is an unjustified limit to the rights of Canadians protected by Charter to enter Canada,” said CCH Director of Litigation, Christine Van Geyn. “The cost of US $ 2,000 per traveler is exploitative and punitive”.
The five Canadians who participated in the process were forced to pay for quarantines in hotels after traveling abroad to visit sick relatives.
According to the CCF, the federal hotel quarantine rule is a violation of sections 6,7,9 and 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The organization is asking the Ontario Superior Court to put an immediate end to the policy.
On March 13, there were 906,000 cases of COVID-19 and 22,429 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic.