Workers prepare to greet passengers at the COVID-19 testing centre in the International Arrivals area at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Tuesday January 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Workers prepare to greet passengers at the COVID-19 testing centre in the International Arrivals area at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Tuesday January 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Federal Court judge dismisses bid to halt hotel quarantines

Justice Centre said the feds will have ‘to account for the incarceration of Canadians without due process’

A group of air travellers has lost a Federal Court bid for an interim injunction to prohibit hotel quarantines for returning passengers.

Justice William Pentney said in a written ruling that the three-day stay in federally designated facilities does not put Canadians’ security at significant risk.

The mandatory quarantine — part of a two-week self-isolation regime for travellers flying back from abroad — came into effect on Feb. 22 following federal measures announced the previous month amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a coronavirus test upon arrival and can cost up to $2,000.

It has faced some backlash from opposition MPs, civil liberties groups and health experts for either coming too late, encroaching on individual freedoms or not going far enough.

However, the judge said the risk that travellers will unwittingly carry COVID-19 variants over the border even after testing negative before flight departure means the measures should stand until a final ruling comes down.

“I do not doubt that the applicants, and other travellers, may be vexed and inconvenienced by the requirement to pay to stay at a hotel while they wait for the results of their COVID-19 test. However, I do not accept that doing so exposes these travellers to any significant security risk,” Pentney wrote in the ruling released Friday.

The broader case against the hotel stays, organized by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, is slated to continue in Federal Court with a three-day hearing starting June 1.

Justice Centre spokesman Jay Cameron said the federal government will have “to account for the incarceration of Canadians without due process.”

“The forced isolation of Canadians in federal facilities, even though they are asymptomatic and have already tested negative for COVID, is an unwarranted, arbitrary and unjustified detention that is a shameful blight on the nation,” he said in an email.

Multiple G20 countries have arguably stricter quarantine measures. Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Japan mandate hotel quarantines ranging from 10 days to three weeks for some or most arrivals.

The preliminary ruling did not examine the applicants’ core claims under sections 7 and 9 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protect Canadians’ right to life, liberty and security and their right not to be arbitrarily detained, respectively. These will come under the microscope after a full hearing in five weeks, the judge said.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Monday called for tighter travel restrictions rather than “half measures” by the Liberal government.

He said Canada should consider an immediate ban on all international flights, particularly COVID-19 hot spots, and implement rapid testing at airports and land-border crossings to keep out more transmissible strains of the virus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada has among the strictest travel and border rules across the globe, including the 14-day self-isolation and a ban on travel into the country by most non-residents.

On Thursday, the federal government announced a 30-day ban on all direct flights from India and Pakistan as case numbers spike at home and more contagious strains including the B.1.6.1.7 variant ravage the subcontinent.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bella Coola’s new WildSafeBC co-ordinator, Rae Kokeš, has spent the last 10 years in Africa working in lion, human, conflict, and is a wildlife biologist by trade. (Photo submitted)
From the savannas of Africa to the Bella Coola Valley

New Wildsafe BC coordinator ready to tackle wildlife conflict

Bella Coola Valley Ridge Riders Horse Club board member Annika Granander watches, and participates in the gymkhana Sunday (Photo submitted)
Sunshine and smiles all around Bella Coola Ridge Riders Horse Club gymkhana

The event was the first of the year, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place

A build up of lint in a clothes dryer is believed to have caused a house fire in Alexis Creek Sunday evening, April 4, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Clothing dryer suspected cause of Alexis Creek home fire, owner wants to warn others

Neil Miller is thankful he still has his horses, community support and his life

This will be the second year the Bella Coola Valley Rodeo won’t take place due to the pandemic. (Michael Wigle file photo)
Bella Coola Valley Rodeo cancelled for 2021

Club organizers say next year’s rodeo will be bigger and better than ever

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Most Read