A First-Hand Look Inside Canada’s Travel Quarantine Hotels Paints A Dismal Picture

Throughout the pandemic different countries have had drastically different reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The countries playing it safest (such as New Zealand) virtually locked down their country.  In the specific case of New Zealand, I can recall seeing pictures of a sporting event there a number of months ago where the stands were packed and nobody wore masks.  They were able to do so because there were literally no COVID-19 cases in the country at that time.

The United States has consistently been on the opposite end of the spectrum. They have limited arrivals from certain countries.  However, up until recently you didn’t require a negative COVID test to enter the country.  That changed quite recently, though there’s still no requirement for a supervised quarantine.  Somewhere in the middle are countries like the UK.  Certain countries are on a high risk list for which the United Kingdom will start requiring a government-supervised quarantine soon.

Poor Conditions Inside Canada Quarantine Hotel

Canada has been quite a bit closer to New Zealand than the United States.  I have family in Nova Scotia, so I’ve been keeping tabs on the conditions there.  For large parts of the pandemic, Nova Scotia has had restrictions in place for residents of other Canadian provinces, let alone other countries.  They’ve been doing a lot to discourage travel both within and to Canada.  Part of that strategy has been the implementation of supervised quarantine in hotels.

A recent CBC article (passed on to me by Dr. Larry) paints a pretty incredible picture:

Another traveller, Mitch Beaulieu, said it seemed to him like a sci-fi thriller. Police and security officers escorted him from Calgary’s airport to a van with blacked-out windows and took him to a hotel with hallways lined with plastic. There, he was greeted by people wearing hazmat suits, gloves and face masks.

If that wasn’t scary enough, another passenger (a Canadian citizen) tells the story of arriving back in Canada with a negative COVID-19 test and being told that wasn’t good enough:

Vanegas says he tested negative for the coronavirus before his flight back to Calgary and had expected to catch a connection to Edmonton, where he would complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period required of all returning non-essential travellers in the home he shares with his mother and sister. However, health officials rejected his quarantine plan because the women both had underlying medical conditions.

The comparison to the United States is stark in both the way Canada is handing travel during the pandemic and the number of positive cases.  Canada peaked at just less than 10,000 new cases per day when the US was seeing over 200,000 cases per day, and has settled down to 2 or 3,000 cases per day.

The Final Two Pennies

I strongly believe the United States wouldn’t be able to implement the sort of quarantine measures that Canada has.  Reading the article was a bit disturbing to me.  Blacked-out windows in vans and hallways covered in plastic?  Seems overly harsh for the circumstances.

I do think the US could have benefited significantly from more stringent travel and quarantine requirements, and probably still can.  I’m just not sure the citizens of the United States would willingly accept a system as restrictive as the one Canada has put in place.

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  1. Maybe not, but we will certainly accept half a million deaths and counting. I admire how New Zealand and Australia have kept per capita deaths to a level we couldn’t imagine.

      1. Hate to say it but we are exceptional as in we practice American exceptionalism. We accept lots of deaths resulting from guns, automobiles, and now COVID. A lack of a comprehensive healthcare insurance/system for all is also something that results in many deaths and disabilities but we accept them. But as a immigrant, I have to say we have more freedom than just about any other country, but the expression “freedom isn’t free” doesn’t just cover the sacrifices of our veterans but also the deaths, injuries and disabilities we accept as a free society.

  2. Lets not make a generalization – The hotels selected in Toronto and Montreal are mostly Marriot! Might also have something to do with the fact the travellers are paying their own way now.

  3. At one-tenth the population, Canada’s Covid numbers aren’t THAT much better than the USA’s. We have no idea whether anything Canada has done has made a difference. Why does Quebec have far worse Covid than British Columbia? Like five times their per capita death! And Alaska has better Covid numbers than Canada. This may also be geographical/climate related. We don’t know. The rush to draw conclusions only feeds bad decision-making.

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