Family moving to N.B. granted hotel isolation exception because they have 20 animals

·4 min read
Helena Diosa and her family will be exempt from staying at a hotel quarantine site and instead be allowed to do their 14-day self-isolation at their new homestead near Woodstock this month. Pictured from left are Talula Diosa, Helena Diosa, Rhaya Diosa, Cody Schell and Peter Schell. (Submitted by Helenia Diosa - image credit)
Helena Diosa and her family will be exempt from staying at a hotel quarantine site and instead be allowed to do their 14-day self-isolation at their new homestead near Woodstock this month. Pictured from left are Talula Diosa, Helena Diosa, Rhaya Diosa, Cody Schell and Peter Schell. (Submitted by Helenia Diosa - image credit)

Who knew two cats, four dogs, four rabbits and 10 quails would make moving to a new province easier and cheaper?

A British Columbia family moving to New Brunswick has been granted an exception to the mandatory hotel quarantine rule, due in part to the fact they'll be relocating to the province with the 20 animals in tow.

With guests being charged about $200 per day to stay in an isolation hotel, the exception will save the family thousands of dollars and the hassle of figuring out what to do with the animals while isolating, said Helena Diosa, who's moving from Rossland, B.C. with her husband, their two daughters, and her father-in-law.

"It's a huge relief that... we're registered to enter New Brunswick, so we know that we're not going to just be turned away or something. We're not just going to have to [in an] emergency go somewhere else entirely.

"And we've got a plan and everything is in place and now we can just get on and do it, right."

Up until last week, their plan was sorted out, with the family set to leave on May 12, with an SUV towing a travel trailer carrying the rabbits and the quails, along with a pickup truck towing a trailer full of their belongings.

The family will be moving to New Brunswick with 10 quails.
The family will be moving to New Brunswick with 10 quails.(Submitted)

They'd sleep and use the bathroom in the trailer, and avoid public spaces as much as possible for the week-long journey, Diosa said.

Awaiting them in Union Corner — just outside Woodstock — is an 86-acre hobby farm they purchased sight-unseen, where they plan to move to with their animals.

Caught by surprise with new rule

The plan seemed simple until last week, when Premier Blaine Higgs announced that anyone travelling into New Brunswick for non-essential purposes would be required to stay at a designated hotel for at least seven days.

"It was really scary because we had a plan to get across the country and to navigate the rules and to isolate at our home where there wasn't going to be anyone else.

"And it was kind of tricky in the first place then for New Brunswick to suddenly say, 'Well, now everyone has to go to a designated hotel.' And we're like, 'Well, how the heck are we going to do that with, like, all the animals?'"

Helena Diosa will be moving to New Brunswick with her family and 20 animals, including four rabbits.
Helena Diosa will be moving to New Brunswick with her family and 20 animals, including four rabbits.(Submitted by Helena Diosa)

Diosa said she and her husband called the isolation hotel where they would have stayed, and were told the family's animals couldn't be accommodated.

After more calls to the office of her soon-to-be MLA Richard Ames, Diosa said she heard back from the Department of Justice and Public Safety on Monday, informing her the family would be able to skip the hotel stay as long as they met a few criteria.

On Saturday, Public Health announced in a news release that it would be allowing exceptions to the mandatory hotel quarantine rule that would let people self-isolate in a stand-alone residence.

It's unclear who is eligible to receive the exemption, and on Tuesday, the Department of Justice and Public Safety was unable to offer details about how many people have been exempt, and under what criteria.

Exemption comes with requirements

Diosa said the hotel being unable to accommodate their animals was a factor in being allowed to isolate at their home.

She said they also assured the department they would be the only people living at the home during the isolation period, and that no entrances or other parts of the property would be shared with anyone else. She also informed the department of their plan to have friends drop off groceries for them.

Diosa said they were told a peace officer would be sent to check on them in the days after arriving, and the family would all have to take a COVID-19 test on the fifth day and tenth day of their isolation period.

Once that's all over, Diosa said the family looks forward to setting up their hobby farm and expanding their brood.

"We will have plenty of property for all the dogs to run around, and our own trees, and we'll be able to like start a market garden and we're going to have goats and pigs and that kind of stuff and expand our quail operation.

"So we're looking forward to really getting stuck into a kind of hobby farm there."