People moving to N.B. seek answers as hotel quarantine rule approaches

·4 min read
New quarantine rules for non-essential travellers to New Brunswick require spending at least seven days in a hotel. Pictured is a designated quarantine hotel in Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
New quarantine rules for non-essential travellers to New Brunswick require spending at least seven days in a hotel. Pictured is a designated quarantine hotel in Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

People moving to New Brunswick are searching for answers on how to properly self-isolate as a hotel quarantine requirement is set to take effect.

Ian Gordon and Gil Steeves had already made it from New York City to Maine when new travel rules put their plans in jeopardy.

They say they are discouraged and searching for answers on how to proceed.

"As frustrating as having new restrictions is, we're willing to follow them — we're completely compliant with everything that's been thrown our way," Steeves said. "And to have them say you have to do this, but not how you can do this, is wild."

All leisure travellers, business travellers and people moving to New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for at least seven days at a designated hotel. The change takes effect on Saturday at midnight.

Truck drivers, rotational workers and regular cross-border commuters are exempt.

The Canadian Red Cross will co-ordinate the hotels and food. It will cost travellers about $1,300 for the stay.

After negative tests on Day 5 and Day 10, they'll be able to complete isolation alone at home.

As the change approached, travellers scrambled to figure out how to book a hotel and follow the guidelines.

'No guidance out there'

Gordon and Steeves had already submitted a quarantine plan to the Canada Border Services Agency, and registered their travel with the province. The couple was ready to self-isolate at Steeves's parents home while they were away and had co-ordinated grocery deliveries.

After hearing about the hotel requirement through social media, they've been calling the province's travel registration line but haven't been able to speak to anyone. So they tried the Red Cross, which is tasked with managing the designated isolation hotels.

"The Red Cross said, 'We have absolutely no idea what's going on, they dropped this on us as well, we don't know,' Steeves said. "They said to call back on Monday."

Ian Gordon and Gil Steeves are moving from New York City to Moncton, N.B. They are searching for answers on how to follow a new hotel quarantine requirement just days before their arrival.
Ian Gordon and Gil Steeves are moving from New York City to Moncton, N.B. They are searching for answers on how to follow a new hotel quarantine requirement just days before their arrival.(Submitted by Gil Steeves)

The couple has been living in New York for three years. They lost their jobs in the hotel industry due to the pandemic.

Steeves is a Canadian citizen originally from New Brunswick, while Gordon is going through the process of emigrating.

"It's really difficult to discern right now because there seems to be no guidance out there from at least New Brunswick, specifically," Gordon said.

No designated hotels yet

The Canadian Red Cross had not received any requests to stay in an isolation hotel as of Thursday afternoon.

Spokesperson Allie Murchison said there will be one designated hotel in each of the province's seven health zones.

"There hasn't [been] anyone registered with the program as of yet, so we can't confirm what hotel and what area at this point in time," she said.

"We're having volunteers and security on site to make sure that those people are quarantining properly."

'You cannot get any information'

Shauna Jones was preparing to help her daughter, Sophie LeBlanc, move to Fredericton for her second year at the University of New Brunswick.

With the Atlantic bubble expected to open in late April, she expected the move from Halifax to a new apartment on May 1 wouldn't be challenging.

New Brunswick had recently eased restrictions for students and their family members at the end of the school year, allowing residents of Atlantic Canada to enter for less than 24 hours for moving.

Shauna Jones was planning to help her daughter, Sophie LeBlanc, move from Halifax to Fredericton, where she'll be studying at UNB. She is trying to get more information on new hotel isolation rules.
Shauna Jones was planning to help her daughter, Sophie LeBlanc, move from Halifax to Fredericton, where she'll be studying at UNB. She is trying to get more information on new hotel isolation rules.(Submitted by Shauna Jones)

"My plan was to cross the border, go straight to her apartment, unload her belongings and then I would get back in my car and come straight home," Jones said.

But with the tightened rules, post-secondary students now need to stay at an isolation hotel. Public Health said the stay will be subsidized for returning students.

Jones is unsure if that will apply to her daughter and called the Red Cross to learn more.

"That person told me that she found out about it with the press release yesterday. She had no further information," she said.

"You cannot get any information on where you're supposed to go, where you're supposed to stay, how this is going to rollout."