Nearly 800 fines issued to returning travellers who refused to quarantine
TORONTO -- The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says 798 fines have been issued to travellers arriving in Canada for refusing to quarantine in a government-authorized hotel.
The agency told CTVNews.ca in an emailed statement that 606 tickets have been issued in Ontario and 192 in British Columbia between Feb. 22 and May 7.
PHAC said it does not have any records of tickets being issued in Quebec, as tickets there are issued by provincial prosecutors and not by law enforcement. PHAC said it is also not aware of any enforcement actions taken in Alberta.
The number of fines has nearly doubled in the past month. PHAC previously told CTVNews.ca that 404 tickets had been issued to travellers refusing to quarantine as of April 19.
Since Feb. 22, international travellers flying into Canada have had to get tested for COVID-19 upon landing and quarantine, at their own expense, in a government-authorized hotel near one of Canada’s four largest airports while awaiting their test results. Unless the travellers are exempt, this can take up to three days and cost up to $2,000.
"Mandatory quarantine or isolation after international travel is one of our primary public health measures that is proven to work in reducing the spread of COVID-19," PHAC said.
Fines for refusing to quarantine at a designated hotel can be up to $3,000 for each day of non-compliance. PHAC says defying that requirement is a violation of the Quarantine Act and tickets are issued to travellers under the Contraventions Act.
Most provinces currently use this ticketing regime, however PHAC said Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut do not use this format for issuing fines.
"While PHAC works closely with local law enforcement and receives data on most enforcement activities taken under the Quarantine Act, police services are not required to send enforcement information to PHAC. As such, there may be enforcement actions not accounted for in PHAC’s data," the agency said.
PHAC noted that it "reaches more than 6,500 travellers daily" by sending emails to travellers, as well as calling air passengers via live agent or automated call to promote compliance with quarantine requirements.
In addition to a fine, those who refuse to quarantine at a government-authorized hotel are also referred to local law enforcement for a "priority follow-up," PHAC says.
"Similar to all other travellers entering Canada, the individual who leaves with a fine will also be subject to PHAC compliance verification activities, including live calls and/or automated calls, to verify compliance, and identify non-compliance with obligations made pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act," the agency said.
While hundreds of fines have been issued to international travellers refusing to stay at a quarantine hotel, PHAC said compliance with the border measures remains "very high."
"Since the 14-day quarantine measures were introduced in March 2020, 95 per cent of travellers are following their 14-day mandatory quarantine or isolation," PHAC said.