What happens when a quarantine hotel has a COVID-19 outbreak? An investigation is underway
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, May 3, 2021

What happens when a quarantine hotel has a COVID-19 outbreak? An investigation is underway

TORONTO — One of the airport hotels designated by the federal government as a COVID-19 quarantine facility is now the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, says that while she understands the interest about the details of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport hotel, she can’t provide further details pending an investigation.

News of the Crowne Plaza outbreak first broke earlier this week. When asked about it at the Toronto COVID-19 briefing yesterday afternoon, Dr. de Villa said Toronto Public Health staff have been assigned to the investigation.

The reporter noted that despite the outbreak, people still appeared to be coming and going from the hotel. “There doesn’t seem to be any precautions,” he said.

Dr. de Villa said it would be inappropriate to comment on the outbreak while the investigation is ongoing. “I can only assure you that appropriate steps are being taken,” she said.

BESET WITH PROBLEMS

The 3-day hotel quarantine requirement, in effect since mid-February and one of many layers of travel restrictions put in place by the federal government, has been beset with problems from the start.

When the program first launched there were hours-long call centre wait times. There have also been allegations of sexual assault.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation mounted a legal challenge against the hotel quarantine requirement, calling it “overboard, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate.

An Ipsos poll showed that while 58% of Canadians said they believed the hotel quarantine requirement was necessary, only 30% said they believed it was effective.

NO HOTEL QUARANTINE – AND NO FINE

There have also been numerous reports of travellers dodging the hotel quarantine.

The latest report, from CBC, indicates that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is aware of more than 500 tickets with fines handed out to hotel quarantine dodgers between Feb. 22 – April 25, 2021. Those are for passengers who landed in Toronto and Vancouver, two of the four currently approved entry points for international travellers.

The CBC says it found no indication that any tickets had been issued for hotel quarantine dodgers in Calgary or Montreal, the other two designated airports.

At least two travellers who flew into Calgary and Montreal airports told the CBC they refused to do the hotel quarantine and have yet to receive fines.

Kathryn Folliott