Why should you skip hotel quarantine after visiting a dying relative overseas?

Earlier this year when the federal government announced a mandatory hotel quarantine for air travellers returning to Canada, I commented that the idea was stupid. I, like many observers, viewed it as our own country detaining us for doing nothing illegal.

I remarked that if I were to commit a crime and get thrown in the slammer, the government would pay for my meals and accommodation. And based on the experience (and food) people are having at some hotels, it might be better than hotel lockup.

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Nevertheless, I understand the purpose of the extreme measures. It’s the government attempting to make it difficult and unappealing for people to travel. I get it.

If I can quarantine safely in the comfort of my own home, why should I be subjected to inflated hotel rates (which seems like price fixing — an illegal act, if I’m not mistaken)?

Since the policy was put in place, there’s been an endless stream of people pleading for exemption from the hotel quarantine. Professional athletes, claiming to be essential workers, wanted to sidestep the rules. In some cases, Olympic athletes are able to do so.

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Every day, people who left the country, often to travel overseas for family-related issues, want to be allowed back in without having to quarantine at a hotel. They say a family member had a medical emergency and/or was at the end of their life, so they needed to be there. They had no choice but to go. No choice. Had to go.

This is where I sound like an insensitive jerk.

I went for much of last year without seeing my grandma. It was last March when I visited her for the final bingo night at “the home.” I was allowed to visit from across a courtyard for 30 minutes on my birthday in August. When she tested positive for coronavirus in October and died in November, I didn’t get to be with her. She lived five minutes away from me.

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I’m sympathetic to people who have ill family members or those who are dying. But I don’t think most of the returning travellers should be exempt if the rules are in place for non-essential travel.

Did they have to leave the country? Or was it something they chose to do?

I couldn’t get near my grandma while she was dying in my own neighbourhood. As much as it sucked to accept that, I had to deal with it. Did it break my heart to see pictures of nurses in Hazmat suits colouring and doing puzzles with her? Yup.

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So, it’s a shame that family members felt the need to make foreign trips, but it’s a decision they made and they knew what they were in for when they got back to Canada.

Again, I’m not saying I support the mandatory hotel quarantine, but I certainly agree that most people — no matter what the sad family story — should follow whatever rules are in place upon their return.

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