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Ottawa unveils the criteria for quarantine hotels

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has outlined its criteria for hotels seeking to participate in the mandatory three-day quarantine for returning travellers.

The conditions posted online brings Ottawa closer to formalizing its latest requirement for air travellers entering Canada to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, and book a three-night stay in a hotel to await test results (at their own expense).

According to the criteria, hotels must be located near one of the four Canadian airports currently accepting international flights:

  • Vancouver International Airport

  • Calgary International Airport

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport

  • Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

Among the items that qualify a "listed hotel” are the location being no more than 10 km from the airport and that it is close to a “designated quarantine facility.”

Other qualifiers include points around accessibility and air ventilation.

Some basic and functional requirements include:

  • Online registration, check-in and check-out procedures (travellers will be required to use a third-party centralized booking system to reserve and pre-pay their hotel stay).

  • 24/7 reception desk service and availability of hotel staff

  • Measures in place to monitor compliance with mandatory isolation requirements (ie: traveller movement within hotel)

  • Individual rooms with bathroom; accessible rooms should be available

  • Functional telephone system

Lodgings must also offer contactless meal delivery to traveller rooms, a functional television and radio and free Wi-Fi access.

Isolation hotels must be able to promote “physical separation” between regular clients and travellers, establish a process for essential outdoor breaks.

(This suggests that everyday guests and travellers in quarantine will be staying in the same hotel).

Additionally, alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol must be provided in each traveller room, throughout common areas and at all entry/exit points.

There are several cleaning expectations that also must be met. Frequently touched surfaces, for instance, are to be cleaned and disinfected in all hotel common areas twice daily and “more often when visibly dirty.”

Clean linens will also be provided at beginning of stay and exchanged upon request.

$2,000 a "ballpark figure"

Quarantine hotels will be privately-owned and must agree to the operational guidelines listed above.

“Generally, these hotels will be for people who are asymptomatic, have provided a negative pre-departure COVID-19 molecular test result, and are not close contacts of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19,” the government notes. “Travellers staying at these hotels while they await their test results may have symptoms of COVID-19 but previously tested negative on their pre-departure test or may have symptoms that are not related to COVID-19.”

These hotels will also be responsible for providing safe transportation from the airport to the hotel.

PHAC says it will review submissions and inform the successful applicants. Submissions must be received by Feb 10, 2021, at 23:59 Pacific time.

The cost of staying in a quarantine hotel has been pegged at $2,000, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeaupreviously indicated.

However, that amount has already been disputed by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who, in a previous interview with CTV, called it a "ballpark figure."

"As we get closer into the implementation in the coming weeks, we will have a much more accurate assessment of the dollar figure and exact locations [of the hotels],” Alghabra told CTV on Jan. 31.

It is still unclear as to when the Government of Canada will make mandatory hotel stays for returning travellers official.

Minister Alghabra previously suggested that the rule could begin Feb. 4, which failed to materialize.

Last week, however, Prime Minister Trudeau said the requirement will be in place “within the weeks to come."

“We’re looking to create a system before people start travelling for the March Break,” Trudeau told reporters on Feb. 2.

To review the complete hotel selection criteria, click here.

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