Written by Ashley Urch
The Government of Canada recently introduced new quarantine measures for travellers as part of their measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. For most travellers arriving in Canada by air, these new measures include a mandatory, three-night pre-booked hotel stay in a government-authorized hotel while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test taken on arrival. Travellers may be wondering what the consequences are for failure to comply with this new requirement.
This requirement went into effect as of February 22, 2021, and arises from an Emergency Order issued on February 14, 2021, under section 58 of the Quarantine Act. If a traveller does not comply with this new three-night pre-booked hotel requirement, it is possible they may be ticketed, prosecuted and/or required to report to a government quarantine facility for the full 14-day quarantine period, depending upon the situation.
Under the Emergency Order, unless they fall into an exemption (such as a crew member under the Canadian Aviation Regulations), a person entering Canada by air is required to provide a suitable quarantine plan and evidence of prepaid accommodation at a government-authorized hotel for a three-day period beginning on the day they arrive in Canada. If a person does not provide a suitable quarantine plan and evidence of prepaid accommodation, they may be deemed unable to quarantine themselves. A person who is deemed unable to quarantine themselves may be directed by a screening officer/quarantine officer to government transportation, transferred to a quarantine facility and be required to remain in quarantine for the full 14 day period. This may be a different facility than one of the government-authorized hotels individuals can book for themselves.
We note that all travellers arriving in Canada are also required to submit their travel and quarantine information, including the booking reference from their prepaid hotel, using ArriveCan before boarding their flight. If a traveller does not submit all the required information before their flight they will be stopped on arrival by a screening officer.
In addition, the consequences for violating the Quarantine Act can be quite serious and individuals could be prosecuted for either a summary or indictable offence under the Criminal Code.
Failure to comply with a number of obligations under the Quarantine Act, including Emergency Orders under section 58, is an offence that could be punishable by:
- A fine of up to $750,000,
- 6 months imprisonment,
- Or both.
If a person contravenes the Quarantine Act and causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person (for example, if they transmit Covid to another individual who becomes seriously ill or dies), they could be convicted and liable for:
- A fine of up to $1,000,000,
- up to 3 years imprisonment,
- or both.
The Quarantine Act also provides that each additional day an offence is carried on can be convicted as a separate offence for each day, so three days of non-compliance with the hotel requirement could be treated as three separate offences.
As an alternative to the above penalties under the Quarantine Act, an individual may be ticketed for a contravention under the Contraventions Act. The Contravention Regulations provide that the failure to comply with certain regulations under the Quarantine Act, including contravening an order regarding measures for preventing the introduction and spread of a communicable disease or leaving a quarantine facility without authorization, can be ticketed and fined for up to $3,000.
Because the hotel quarantine requirement is fairly new, it is difficult to guess what the actual punishments would look like in practice. News reports on fines that have been issued for breaking the Quarantine Act last fall suggest most have been in the range of $275-$1275. However, that is no guarantee of what the fines would be for a traveller breaching the hotel quarantine requirement and it is certainly possible that harsher penalties would be imposed. Decisions to ticket under the Contraventions Act versus criminal prosecution, and the penalties imposed, may also depend on how egregious the violation is considered to be.
The legal professionals at DBH Law in Calgary work with our clients on a variety of legal issues, including business, employment and litigation matters. Please reach out to us online or by phone at 403-252-9937 to talk today.