JERUSALEM — With frustrations mounting over Canada’s hotel quarantine mandate and booking system, Israel has unveiled a possible alternative that would give travellers the chance to effectively quarantine at home.
The pilot program, which kicked off March 1, allows Israelis returning home from abroad to wear a bracelet monitor that notifies authorities should they violate their mandatory isolation period. The program launched with 100 track systems available at Ben Gurion Airport, where traffic has dropped dramatically due to travel restrictions.
Up until now, incoming passengers have been forced to stay at hotels – paid for by the government – for up to two weeks to ensure they are virus-free.
With the new pilot program, passengers can self-isolate at home using an electronic, lightweight and waterproof bracelet, a smartphone and a wall-mounted tracker. The system alerts the authorities is the bracelet is removed or if the wearer ventures too far from the home monitor.
“We said we want it,” said 44-year-old Alejandro Quil, who wore the bracelet on his wrist. “They gave us the service, it’s great for us so we won’t have to go to a hotel so we can do the quarantine at home, as it should be.”
SuperCom, the company behind the technology said there is potential for the pilot to quickly expand to include thousands of units for more widescale use.
Canada’s hotel quarantine rule, which requires anyone flying into Canada to have a pre-booked, three-night hotel stay to wait out PCR test results, went into effect Feb. 22. Unlike Israel, Canada’s mandatory hotel stay must be paid by travellers, which can total up to $2,000.
The federal government’s hotel booking site went live on Feb. 18 and was immediately met with criticism for its long wait times, which travellers have reported last anywhere from two to 10 hours.
With file from Reuters