Garnett Genuis, M.P. writes: Conservatives Call for an End to Hotel Quarantine
When the COVID-19 outbreak first began, the Conservative caucus was quick to call for border restrictions in order to limit the spread of the virus. But the government was reluctant to impose such measures. They were similarly slow to put in place mechanisms for testing and tracing protocols. These delays hurt our response and likely led to higher rates of infection.
In a much belated recognition of the need for strong border measures, the government has started to take some steps in recent months to toughen the border. But while I support strong screening measures at the border, the government’s policy of mandatory hotel quarantine for air travelers is not based on data and is bringing the whole process into disrepute.
Since the beginning, this hotel quarantine policy has been riddled with logistical issues, from Canadians being unable to book their stays, to a haphazard patchwork of exemptions that does not take into account the situations of many travellers. We saw no accommodations for citizens who were already outside of the country when this requirement came into effect, or for those who are employed internationally in positions that are deemed nonessential. In my role as Shadow Minister for International Development, I have been hearing from organizations about the significant challenges for humanitarian workers and humanitarian organizations associated with mandatory hotel quarantine. We are forcing charities to put aid workers in hotels, at enormous cost.
What is even more concerning, however, are the reports that have surfaced of abuse and neglect as a result of the current quarantine policies. This includes a report of a sexual assault taking place.
The government maintains that these policies were established for the health and wellbeing of Canadians, however, we have yet to see evidence in support of this claim. The truth is that we have no data to demonstrate that quarantining for three days in a hotel is any safer, for the public or the individual, than for a person to quarantine in their own home. When confronted on this point during a Public Safety committee meeting, the Health Minster herself admitted that the data showing a need for the hotel quarantine requirement is “incomplete.” In short, the government has not been able to back up their own decision and explain why quarantine in a hotel is better for public health.
For these reasons, Conservatives are calling on the government to put an end to the arbitrary hotel quarantine, and instead focus on a more thorough and effective system for pre and post-arrival testing, as well as safe at-home quarantine guidelines.
On a different note, I want to share my condolences with anyone who may have family or friends impacted by the recent train crash in Egypt. My heart goes out to the victims of this terrible accident and to their families, and I pray for their consolation in this difficult time.