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Government Increasing Hotel Quarantine Fines

The last time we wrote (May 4, 2021) about this topic, the Prime Minister of Canada warn that travellers could see stiffer penalties for not following the quarantine rules. Exactly a month later, the Canadian Federal Government is set to increase the fines (effective June 4, 2021):

  • The Contraventions Act provides police (including RCMP, provincial and local police) the authority to enforce the Quarantine Act. Tickets with fines of up to $3,000 may be issued for non-compliance. As of June 4, 2021, these tickets carry an increased fine of $5,000.

Mandatory Hotel Stay

We have written extensively about the quarantine process. Basically, air travellers must prove that they booked a 3-night hotel stay (at their stopover airport, if it is not their final destination) before arriving in Canada. This is in addition to providing a negative test result before boarding their flight to Canada, as well as taking another test before immediately heading to the government approved hotel. 

Fines and Penalties

The fines will be increasing on June 4, 2021 from up to $3,000 to $5,000. Furthermore, there can also be other punishments for violating any instructions provided to passengers when entering Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act that could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

In addition, if someone broke the mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements that may cause the death or serious bodily harm to another person can incur a fine of up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years or both.

Circumventing the System

The challenge at the moment for the Federal Government is that there are so many ways to circumvent the system. Ranging from people refusing the quarantine at a hotel and going straight home instead, while willing to swallow a possible fine. There are also people flying into a nearby U.S. airport, then walking or driving across the Canadian border. Land crossing does not require mandatory hotel quarantines.

Even if people are going straight home from the airport, it does not seem like there is a consistent application of the punishment as not everyone is receiving a ticket anyway. Even if someone received a ticket, how much enforcement will be there for non-payment?

Thoughts

I have been trying to wrap my head around this for a couple of months now. Considering the amount of people and ways that people circumventing the system and refusals to pay the fines, what is the government really trying to accomplish?

  • Reduce transmission?
  • Discourage people from travelling?
  • Raise funds for the government?
  • Is the government even really expecting people to pay the fine or is it just a scare tactic?

On the one hand, these measures almost feels like a publicity stunt to make the public feel like the Government is trying to doing something.

On the other hand, even though people are finding ways to get creative to avoid mandatory hotel quarantine requirement, as a result, maybe these people are taking even more cautious measures to help curb possible transmission. So indirectly it might be working?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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