YVR travellers react to mandatory quarantine rules
RICHMOND -- Travellers returning to Canada from abroad are voicing some confusion about the federal government’s new travel restrictions.
This week, Ottawa announced new measures under the Quarantine Act, with enforcement beginning Thursday morning.
Those measures legally require all travellers returning to Canada from abroad to go into self-isolation for 14 days, even if they are showing no symptoms of COIVD-19.
Canada Border Services Agency officers are enforcing the rule, notifying travellers of their obligation to quarantine when they pass through customs. CBSA is also collecting contact info so it can have the ability to follow up and perform random checks.
Anyone caught breaking the rules can be fined up to a million dollars and face three years in prison.
“Some people have not been taking this seriously,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his daily COVID-19 press conference Thursday morning. “They’re stopping by the grocery store on their way home from the airport. They’re getting together with friends after being away for March break. This kind of conduct is not just disappointing, it’s dangerous."
Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said international travellers would be barred from using public transportation to get home from the airport.
However, there is confusion on what that includes.
Two permanent residents arriving from Shanghai Thursday morning told CTV News Vancouver CBSA officers had given them to okay to take a taxi home.
”As long as I don’t have a fever or cough or something,” said Jonathan Mao before hopping into a cab.
Mao says his flight had just 11 people on board and passengers were seated several rows apart.
Limousine drivers and rental car companies also questioned if they would fall under the public transport category as they serve countless passengers each day.
Uber and Lyft drivers could be seen outside the international arrivals terminal picking up travellers as well.
Last week, Trudeau advised Canadians abroad to return home while commercial flights were still available. Travellers at YVR Thursday said it’s been a nightmare to do so, since many flights have been cancelled.
“There was nowhere to go, the hotels were shutting down, hostels were shutting down, it was kind of crazy. I thought, 'I better get home pretty quickly,'” said Ryan Devon.
Devon was on a work/holiday visa in Auckland, New Zealand. He was concerned about the validity of his travel insurance and his job stability, so he decided to come home.
New Zealand went into a nationwide lockdown this week.
”I was very nervous, especially thinking about getting stuck on the streets," Devon said.
He was taking a connecting flight to his home in Ontario and was told by CBSA to remain inside YVR until it departed.
Other passengers arriving from Auckland shared similar stories.
“It’s been quite stressful finding a way to get back into Canada,” said Jan Finlay, who also arrived from Auckland.
Finlay was forced to wait four hours at the airport for her son to pick her up and take her home to Penticton.
Those returning from abroad are also prohibited from carrying out their self isolation in a space where they may come into contact with vulnerable people. That includes the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
The federal government says it will help accommodate Canadians who can’t go home because of those conditions.