OPINION: New plan regarding quarantines at hotels could get Canada on the right track

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Opinion

This year continues to promise improvement despite everything that has happened since the surprise appearance of the coronavirus in 2020.

Vaccines are now being administered throughout the province, giving citizens the opportunity to protect themselves if they want. Toronto appears to be recovering from the spike of cases that started this year off badly. The city recently extended restrictions and orders until the summer to ensure the number of cases continue to drop.

But a federal and provincial restriction, for example, that targets international travellers arriving at Toronto’s airport to enter quarantine hotels to be tested for COVID seems both prudent and excessive.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced the plan on Jan. 29, in part because of the new strains of COVID-19 variants that are more contagious — and deadlier — than the original strain. There’s the U.K. variant, the South Africa variant and the Brazil variant.

If arrivals prove clear of COVID-19, they would be able to start their 14-day process at home. But if not, they would need to be quarantined in a hotel at their expense, which can be up to $2,000.

At first, I thought the whole plan was going to be a bad idea, considering that people would have to pay out of their own pockets. International students are not generally awash in cash and $2,000 is prohibitively high.

Also, Canadians already overseas are often at the mercy of quickly changing protocols involving air travel, and trying to return could be disastrous for them. They have to choose between cutting their vacation or travel time short or being stranded until April, which I think is a little longer than it needs to be. Mid-March seems to me to be more appropriate, to see if the plan is making progress.

But after mulling over the situation, I realized maybe there’s a positive outlook in everything that’s being said and that’s being put into action.

I now understand the Ontario government is trying to limit travel, because of the appearance of these new variants, apparently being brought into the city from travellers arriving at the airport. I now understand it’s trying to uphold the good, to ensure a third wave doesn’t make the province enter into another serious incident.

There’s a growing fear of a third wave later this year if the variants aren’t brought under control. Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told the media this week modelling shows the number of cases could skyrocket.

Despite the seemingly hard medicine of potential quarantining travellers at the cost of $2,000, I feel it offers newfound hope the year is starting to get on the right track so far.