Spending up to three days in a hotel while waiting for COVID-19 test results became mandatory for all travellers coming to Canada.
A three-day mandatory hotel stay if flying into Canada became effective on Feb. 22. According to the federal government, everyone who arrives in Canada must live in a government-approved hotel at their own expense.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new rules twice before they were put into force. The first announcement was during a Jan. 29 media conference, but he waited until Feb. 12 to announce the exact date the regulations would become effective.
“These are some of the strongest measures in the world,” Trudeau said. “But with new variants emerging, we are stepping them up even further.”
The official Canadian government website has posted the list of approved hotels to stay in during the self-isolation. A hotel near Pearson International Airport offers a single living room for C$339 per night and a room for double occupancy for C$399 per night.
“The price is unfair,” said Humber College student Max Kalinichenko. “And the very sad fact is that this kind of self-isolation is pretty much the same as the one we had before the new rules, but the one we have now seems to be more about money, not safety.”
Booking a hotel room often is an issue for travellers, considering very few hotels offer online reservation. Moreover, there are charges are applied for those who are calling from abroad.
Gonzalo Ortiz, an international student from Peru, arrived in Toronto on Feb.15. He studies Global Business Management at Humber College and it was his first time in Canada.
The days before the flight were hectic for Gonzalo. Even though he arrived before the new restrictions have been applied, he anyways had a lot of documents to prepare to enter the country, and the 14-day self-isolation also cost quite a penny.
“I sent lots of emails to Humber in order to get some help,” he said. “Finally I took Humber’s accommodations for quarantine and I also came to the student residence.”
Gonzalo was credited C$1,000 of the C$1,800 that he paid for quarantine, but he won’t see the cash.
“I mean, I won’t see that money back,” he said. “They will give it to me by adding it to my balance.”
The new travel restrictions are affecting students, some who urgently booked a flight hoping to be lucky and arrive before the rules were applied, and others decided to wait until the pandemic passes.
The new rules made Gonzalo doubt if it would be worth coming to Canada after Feb. 22.
“Well, if I were in Peru, it’s very likely that I will still try to come [to Canada] but I would evaluate the cost-benefit as well,” Gonzalo said. “So my answer is that I would have to evaluate everything again and I’m not sure.“