Hotel isolation guests still searching for answers

·4 min read
Ian Gordon and Gil Steeves are currently self isolating at the Hilton hotel in Saint John.  (Submitted by Gil Steeves - image credit)
Ian Gordon and Gil Steeves are currently self isolating at the Hilton hotel in Saint John. (Submitted by Gil Steeves - image credit)

Gil Steeves and her husband Ian Gordon spent Wednesday morning waiting for groceries to be delivered to their hotel room at the Hilton in Saint John.

The couple checked in Tuesday evening to begin their mandatory isolation stay.

The seven day minimum stay wasn't part of their original itinerary when they began planning to move to her home province from Staten Island, NY.

The couple was in Maine and was registered to cross into New Brunswick this week when they heard that all non-essential travelers now had to stay at a hotel regardless of a previously approved isolation plan.

It was a frustrating situation for the couple ,who said getting information about the new changes was near impossible, and often contradictory, depending who they spoke to.

"So we would've liked a little bit more concrete answers," Steeves' said. "We'll follow the rules."

Steeves and Gordon got enough information to get themselves to the hotel in Saint John.

The Hyatt Place in Moncton is one of five hotels across the province that have travelers isolating.
The Hyatt Place in Moncton is one of five hotels across the province that have travelers isolating. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Since they were travelling internationally they had all the required information to present at the border crossing to meet the federal guidelines.

But their biggest surprise was no one, at any point from the border to the hotel, stopped and asked to see their New Brunswick travel registration — including confirmation that they were going to stay at an approved isolation hotel.

"We also had our hotel booking confirmation printed out with us showing both of our names on the paper to match up with our New Brunswick travel confirmations," Gordon said. "This information was not asked for."

The couple is occupying one of 128 hotel rooms in the province currently being used by travelers for isolation, 34 at the Hilton in Saint John, as of Wednesday.

In Moncton, 80 rooms are occupied at the Hyatt, while nine rooms are being used at the Delta in Fredericton.

There are three rooms currently occupied at the Best Western in Bathurst, and two rooms at the Quality Inn in Campbellton being used by isolating guests.

Gil Steeves and Ian Gordon from their hotel isolation room in Saint John.
Gil Steeves and Ian Gordon from their hotel isolation room in Saint John.(Gary Moore/CBC)

Anyone coming to New Brunswick has to register with the province. After that step is complete, they have to contact the Red Cross, the organization overseeing the hotel isolation plan, to co–ordinate their stay.

On average the cost is about $200 a day with food.

But Steeves and Gordon opted to only pay for the hotel, and order groceries to be delivered to their room.

Steeves' parents are planning to drive from the Moncton area to drop off a care package to the couple with some food, too.

The couple said their biggest concern now is getting out of the hotel, once they've done their time.

And it's no surprise to them that they still have questions and can't get answers, as they're locked in their hotel room.

Still looking for answers

"We got ourselves to the hotel, we're just wondering how do we get out?," Steeves laughed.

Guests isolating in a hotel have to get a COVID test on day five of their stay. If the results come back negative they can leave on day seven and finish isolation somewhere else.

"It's our first day here and we have been on the phone since 7 a.m.," Steeves said of their attempts to find out details about the COVID test.

"Nobody has answers for us still," she said.

"I am worried that in a couple days or maybe a couple weeks, we'll find out that this plan just wasn't set up enough and they're not going to maintain it, and this was all for nothing," Steeves said, adding that they had a quarantine plan.

As for the hotel stay itself, the couple praised the staff for getting them checked in safely.

Steeves and Gordon have been living an isolated life since the start of the pandemic, and said checking into a hotel was surreal.

"This was like the most contact we had after taking so many measures to avoid the coronavirus," Steeves said, adding that their original isolation plan was going to be in an empty house, fully stocked with groceries and supplies.

"I just kept picturing that we could be at a house in the middle of nowhere and no one would be around," she said.

The Red Cross said Public Health is co–ordinating the COVID tests, and people can get more information on the government's website.