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02/23/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/23/2021 14:58

Additional guidance now available regarding Canada’s mandatory hotel quarantine requirement and second post-arrival COVID-19 molecular test requirement

February 23, 2021

Introduction

We previously reported on Canada's new post-arrival COVID-19 molecular test requirement and mandatory hotel requirement for air travellers, as implemented by the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations) (the Quarantine Order). On February 18, 2021, the Government of Canada published additional guidance and instructions regarding the new mandatory hotel quarantine and second post-arrival COVID-19 molecular test requirements (the Post-Arrival Guidance).

The post-arrival COVID-19 molecular test requirement

According to Paragraph 1.4(1)(a) of the Quarantine Order, every person five years of age or older who enters Canada must undergo a COVID-19 molecular test in accordance with the instructions of a quarantine officer or the Minister of Health:

  1. On entering Canada (the First Post-Arrival Test); and
  2. After entering Canada (the Second Post-Arrival Test).

Although officials previously confirmed to the media that the Second Post-Arrival Test would be required for persons crossing the land border, they did not mention that it would also be required for air travellers. However, we previously noted that the language of the Quarantine Order permitted the Government of Canada to impose the Second Post-Arrival Test on air travellers also.

The Post-Arrival Guidance now confirms that air travellers will be required to take the Second Post-Arrival Test some time during their 14-day self-quarantine. In connection with this requirement, travellers will be provided with a COVID-19 test kit and instructions prior to leaving the airport. However, the Post-Arrival Guidance still does not state exactly when air travellers will be required to undergo the Second COVID-19 molecular test.

Evidence of prepaid government-authorized accommodation

According to Subsection 1.2(1) of the Quarantine Order, every person who enters Canada by aircraft must provide to the Minister of Health, screening officer, or quarantine officer evidence of prepaid accommodation that enables the person to remain in quarantine at a government-authorized accommodation for a three-day period, which begins on the day that they enter Canada. We previously noted that the language of the Quarantine Order is somewhat vague, and that it was unclear whether travellers must also present evidence of prepaid accommodation to airline personnel when they board the flight to Canada.

The Post-Arrival Guidance now clarifies that travellers will be required to present proof of prepaid accommodation through ArriveCAN. As previously reported, air travellers (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents) whose final destination is Canada are required to submit certain information electronically through ArriveCAN; these submissions must be made before travellers board their flights to Canada.

The above requirement is now also confirmed in the Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, No. 22 (Interim Order No. 22), which was issued by Transport Canada on February 19, 2021. According to Subsection 2(2), a private operator or air carrier operating a flight to Canada departing from any other country must notify every person before the person boards the aircraft for the flight that they may be required to provide, before boarding the aircraft, to the Minister of Health by electronic means (i.e., via ArriveCan), the following:

  1. A suitable quarantine plan; and
  2. Beginning on February 21, 2021 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), evidence of prepaid accommodation arrangements that enables them to remain in quarantine at a government-authorized accommodation for a three-day period that begins on the day on which they enter Canada.

Pursuant to Interim Order No. 22, persons who are not required under the Quarantine Order to provide a suitable quarantine plan and evidence of prepaid government-authorized accommodation will instead be required to provide their contact information.

Government-authorized accommodations

According to Subsection 3(1.3) of the Quarantine Order, a person who is subject to the mandatory hotel quarantine requirement must make arrangements for government-authorized accommodation at their own expense. However, the Quarantine Order does not include a list of government-approved hotels that will satisfy this mandatory hotel requirement.

The Post-Arrival Guidance now includes a list of government-approved accommodations (collectively, the Authorized Hotels), which will satisfy the mandatory hotel requirement:

  1. Alberta [Calgary International Airport (YYC)]:
    1. Acclaim Hotel; and
    2. Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel.
  2. British Columbia [Vancouver International Airport (YVR)]:
    1. Fairmont Vancouver Airport;
    2. Radisson Vancouver Airport; and
    3. The Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport.
  3. Ontario [Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ)]:
    1. Alt Hotel Pearson Airport;
    2. Fairfield Inn & Suites Toronto Airport;
    3. Four Points by Sheraton;
    4. Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport; and
    5. Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Toronto International Airport.
  4. Québec [Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)]:
    1. Aloft Montreal Airport;
    2. Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport;
    3. Holiday Inn Express and Suites Montreal Airport; and
    4. Montreal Airport Marriott In-Terminal.

Booking government-authorized accommodations

The Post-Arrival Guidance also provides detailed instructions regarding the process for reserving accommodations at one of the Authorized Hotels. This booking process is exclusively managed by GB Travel Canada Inc. (i.e., American Express Global Business Travel) and is available by telephone only.

In order to reserve and pay for the mandatory 3-night hotel stay, travellers with flights to Canada scheduled within the next 48 hours are instructed to call one of the following phone numbers:

  1. 1-800-294-8253 (toll-free within North America); or
  2. 1-613-830-2992 (collect outside of North America).

This strongly suggests that a reservation cannot be made more than 48 hours in advance. The regular hours of operation for the phone lines provided are 8:00 am to 11:00 pm EST, seven days a week, and calls received after hours will be limited to emergencies.

When making a reservation, travellers will indicate their desired hotel location, and will be required to provide the following:

  • Traveller name(s);
  • Date(s) of birth;
  • Gender (male, female, or undisclosed);
  • Arrival city and date;
  • Confirmation of flight reservation;
  • Payment information;
  • Special requests and accessibility concerns;
  • Pet information; and
  • Email address.

Travellers should receive email confirmation of their accommodation within four hours of booking.

The Post-Arrival Guidance states that the costs associated with a stay at one of the Authorized Hotels may vary by location. The final price will include costs for the following: (1) food, (2) room, (3) security, (4) transportation, and (5) infection prevention and control measures.

We previously noted that Subsection 3(1.3) of the Quarantine Order also contemplates the possibility that the government-authorized accommodation might be provided or paid for by Her Majesty in right of Canada or an agent of Her Majesty (i.e., the Government of Canada or the government of a province). However, it is not yet clear when the Government of Canada or a provincial government would be willing to cover the costs of a traveller's accommodation at one of the Authorized Hotels.

As reported by the media, many imminent travellers have had difficulty booking their accommodations at one the Authorized Hotels, with some waiting on hold for more than six hours, and others being automatically disconnected after three hours on hold. Consistent with the media report, the Post-Arrival Guidance states that the booking phone line is receiving a high volume of calls. All of this this would suggest that there may be insufficient booking agents to field all of the incoming calls.

Travelling to one of the Authorized Hotels from the airport

The Post-Arrival Guidance states that travellers may drive themselves to one of the Authorized Hotels if their private vehicle is parked in one of the airport's parking lots, and within walking distance from the airport (e.g., public transit is not required to get to their vehicle). If driving a private vehicle, travellers are instructed to go directly to their hotel, and not to stop along the way for any reason (e.g., gas, food, or other items).

Travellers who don't have a private vehicle are permitted to travel by:

  1. Shuttle bus to one of the Authorized Hotels (and will be provided with the relevant instructions at their airport); or
  2. Taxi or limousine.

Meals, room cleaning, and activities

The Post-Arrival Guidance provides certain details regarding what travellers can expect during their stay at one of the Authorized Hotels. This includes the following:

  1. Meals will be delivered to a traveller's room three times per day;
  2. Cleaning personnel will not enter a traveller's room (but travellers will be provided with sanitizer and disinfectant, and can request contactless delivery of additional towels and toiletries);
  3. Asymptomatic travellers may go outside for limited and monitored outdoor time (and will be required to wear a non-medical mask, and maintain a two-metre distance from others);
  4. Travellers are not permitted to interact with travellers outside their immediate household or visit common areas of the hotel (but will be permitted to make phone/video calls to other people);
  5. Travellers will be permitted to bring a pet so long as they book their stay in a hotel that allows pets;
  6. Alcohol and cannabis products are not considered essential items (unless medically prescribed), and hotels are not required to provide or deliver these items to a traveller's room; and
  7. 24-hour onsite security will be provided.

Check-out procedure

The Authorized Hotels will provide contactless check-out procedures. The Post-Arrival Guidance states that a particular traveller's check-out procedure will vary depending on the outcome of their First Post-Arrival Test.

A traveller who receives a negative test result may call the hotel reception to check-out, even if this occurs before the end of their three night stay. If the traveller has an approved quarantine plan, they will be permitted to complete the remainder of their 14-day quarantine at their planned location. Those without an approved quarantine plan will complete the remainder of their quarantine at a designated federal quarantine facility.

A traveller who receives a positive test result must remain in their room, and will be contacted by a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) official who will provide further instructions. Such a traveller will be required to isolate at a federal designated quarantine facility or other suitable location for 14 days from when the sample for the First Post-Arrival Test was collected.

Lastly, a traveller who has yet to receive a test result after three days, or who received a test result that was inconclusive, will be required to remain in their room. In such cases, a PHAC official will call the traveller to provide additional details and instructions. At that point, the PHAC official may permit the traveller to go home if they have a suitable isolation plan, as well as private means of transportation to go directly to their final destination.

Traveller responsibilities

The Post-Arrival Guidance states that, during their stay at one of the Authorized Hotels, a traveller must do the following:

  1. Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID and report daily through ArriveCAN;
  2. Follow the code of conduct of the hotel;
  3. Pay for all costs associated with the three-night stay at the hotel (including any damage to the hotel room or property);
  4. Remain in their assigned room unless escorted by an official;
  5. Limit face-to-face contact with others; and
  6. Always wear a non-medical mask any time they:
    1. Open their door to receive meals;
    2. Speak face-to-face with hotel personnel; and
    3. Are escorted outside of their room.

The Post-Arrival Guidance also prohibits a traveller from doing any of the following:

  1. Leaving their hotel room unless it is:
    1. For a medical emergency;
    2. For an essential medical service or treatment; or
    3. Pre-authorized by a government official.
  2. Having any visitors; and
  3. Using shared spaces (e.g., pools, gyms, lobbies, courtyards, or restaurants).

Penalties for non-compliance with a hotel's code of conduct

Individuals who fail to comply with a code of conduct implemented by one of the Authorized Hotels may be subject to enforcement measures under the Quarantine Act, and/or other actions under provincial or municipal legislation. Local police will be contacted as necessary.

In addition, the Post-Arrival Guidance states that, pursuant to the Contraventions Act, police and PHAC officers can issue contravention tickets to people who fail to comply with the Quarantine Act and/or emergency orders made under the Quarantine Act.

Any traveller who contravenes the Quarantine Act may be fined up to $CA3,000 for each:

  1. Day of non-compliance; or
  2. Offence committed.

Penalties for breaking quarantine/isolation

The Post-Arrival Guidance reminds travellers that violating any instructions provided to them upon entry to Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act, and may result in the following:

  1. A fine of up to CA$750,000; and/or
  2. Up to 6 months in prison.

If a person is found to have broken mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements, and causes the death of or serious bodily harm to another person, they could face the following:

  1. A fine of up to CA$1 million; and/or
  2. Up to three years in prison.