A WestJet employee assists a person checking in for a domestic flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Ottawa lays out criteria for quarantine hotels as it inches toward new travel rule

OTTAWA — Hotel operators seeking to take part in Canada’s mandatory three-day quarantine for returning travellers can now access the criteria, though it comes as cold comfort to a battered industry.

The conditions posted online put the government one step closer to fulfilling its late-January pledge that all passengers returning from non-essential trips abroad will have to self-isolate in a federally mandated facility for up to 72 hours at their own expense.

The government has not said when the measure, which aims to head off COVID-19 cases and contagious variants of the novel coronavirus at the border, will come into effect.

Hoteliers say the criteria seem reasonable, but doubt the quarantine rule will deliver a significant boost in business to the hammered hospitality sector.

To qualify as a “listed hotel,” lodgings must be near one of the four airports currently accepting international flights — in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

They must provide transportation from the airport, free wireless internet access and no-contact meal delivery to rooms, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Hotels would also have to set up a process for brief outdoor breaks and report daily check-in and checkout numbers, as well as non-compliant guests to the agency. That means monitoring traveller movement within the building, it says.

Hotel submissions are due on Wednesday, two days after the criteria were posted online.

Hotel operators question whether the quarantine order, which will see guests pay upwards of $2,000, including the cost of a mandatory COVID-19 test, will help them rebuild after a sector collapse.

“I don’t think this is going to boost anything,” said Eve Paré, who heads the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal.

“There’ll be very few travellers.”

Association members have lost $700 million in room revenue and laid off 90 per cent of their staff, she said.

“It’s been a disaster since the very beginning of the pandemic.”

She added that the health agency’s criteria seem easy to meet for hotels that lie within the requisite 10-kilometre radius of the airport.

“What they ask, it’s pretty much what’s already there,” she said, referring to stipulations from ventilation to laundry to cleaning protocols. Hotels that have all but shut down will have to rehire cooks or order food from off-site, she noted.

The need to quarantine in a hotel is one of a series of federal measures targeting international travel in the past month.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Jan. 29 that Canadian airlines had suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, and that hotel self-isolation was en route.

As of Jan. 7, residents who choose to fly abroad have had to provide proof of negative results for a COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before departure back to home soil.

The upcoming quarantine rule has faced resistance from civil liberties advocates concerned about its impact on mobility rights.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said Monday it might unfairly impact Canadians — particularly lower-income travellers — who need to care for sick relatives or receive specialized medical care abroad.

In a letter to the federal transport minister and attorney general, the association demanded Ottawa carve out quarantine exemptions and fee waivers for certain situations.

The quarantine order is not the only area where Ottawa is playing catchup.

The Canadian Transportation Agency now faces a backlog of more than 16,000 unprocessed complaints from air passengers.

The buildup follows a surge of complaints after airlines began cancelling flights en masse without refunding customers starting in mid-March, as well as a slew of complaints in the preceding months when a passenger rights charter came into force.

About 73 per cent of the 13,376 complaints filed to the agency between March 1 and Dec. 7 relate to “flight disruptions,” according to the regulator’s response to an order paper question from the NDP.

“I suspect that the bulk of complaints relate to passenger refunds and flight cancellations, and it really underscores the need for the government to find some way to mandate the airlines to provide passenger refunds,” said NDP transport critic Taylor Bachrach.

“The question for the government is, what improvements are they going to make to ensure that passenger complaints actually get heard by the CTA?”

The agency took 157 business days on average to resolve a complaint in 2020-21, compared to an average of 55 business days the year before, according to the response.

Marc Garneau, when he was federal transport minister, announced in November the government planned to negotiate an aid package for struggling airlines that would be conditional on them agreeing to offer refunds for cancelled trips, but negotiations have faltered.

Scott Streiner, the chair of the Canadian Transportation Agency, said last summer it would receive additional funding and hire 34 new staff to its team of 50 dealing with air travel complaints.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud, right, vies for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, NJ., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. Entering his ninth season with Toronto FC, Jonathan Osorio said his off-season regimen was no different than in the past. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Angela James stands on centre ice in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs team after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talks to center Aron Baynes (46) and guard Norman Powell (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Team Ontario skip Rachel Homan, centre, makes a shot against Team Wild Card 1 as second Sarah Wilkes, left, and lead Joanne Courtney sweep at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Ontario's Rachel Homan kicked off play in the championship pool Friday with a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey of Team Wild Card One at the Canadian women's curling playdowns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

Most Read