Police issue 77 fines, charge 7 people for violating federal Quarantine Act
OTTAWA -- Since March, police have doled out 77 fines against Canadians violating the Quarantine Act and charged seven people, CTV News has confirmed.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), more than one million travellers have been ordered to quarantine or isolate at home and of those, more than 247,000 were flagged by PHAC to law enforcement for physical check-ins.
On March 25, Canada implemented an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requiring all travellers coming from abroad -- discounting asymptomatic essential workers -- to quarantine for 14 days with or without symptoms.
Failing to comply can result in a fine of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both. If an individual causes a "risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm while wilfully or recklessly contravening this Act or the regulations" they can be liable for a fine of up to $1 million or up to three years in prison, or both, as per the Government of Canada website.
The order requires travellers to go immediately to their place of quarantine without coming into contact with people, unless being housed in one of the federal quarantine sites, and only leaving the home for time-sensitive medical services.
The Alberta government announced last Thursday that it was working with Ottawa on a new pilot program at the Calgary International Airport that will use enhanced rapid-testing to shorten the 14-day quarantine period.
Tests will be administered at the airport and travellers will be required to self-isolate for 24 to 48 hours until they get their results back. If their result comes back negative, they can head back into the community while wearing a mask and physically distancing. After day seven, they are required to take a second test and if again negative, they can go about their lives as usual.
"This is an important step in Alberta’s Recovery Plan. This new pilot program will allow those who need to travel for work to have a safe path to a shorter quarantine period," said Premier Jason Kenney at a press conference that day.
"We cannot turn our back on the travel industry or the tourism industry.”
This comes amid mounting calls from the airline sector for the federal government to loosen quarantine rules to encourage air travel amid the pandemic. WestJet announced earlier this month it would cease operations to four cities in Atlantic Canada in part due to the provincial mandatory isolation rules.
WestJet Airlines CEO Ed Sims welcomed the news of the pilot program.
"This is the first bit of good news we’ve received since February," said Sims on Thursday. "WestJet has been advocating for a science-based rapid testing solution to help safely ease the quarantine requirements."
CTV News Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy told CTV’s Power Play it will be a program to watch but cautioned that science still shows people can exhibit symptoms in the second week of isolation.
"I guess I’m concerned about the proverbial devil in the details here. We all know that you can be exposed to COVID-19 and still not show symptoms or develop a positive test for several days, so how close is the monitoring going to be?" he said. "There’s a lot we’re relying on here in terms of the so-called honour system."
With a file from CTV News Calgary's Jordan Kanygin