N.B. quarantine hotels now strictly for non-essential travellers who must isolate

·3 min read
Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane did not identify the designated hotels. (CBC News file photo - image credit)
Department of Health spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane did not identify the designated hotels. (CBC News file photo - image credit)

Isolating non-essential travellers will be kept at separate hotels, without any other guests, says New Brunswick's Department of Health.

It's one of the changes the province has implemented to its designated hotel quarantine program following weekend meetings aimed at making the program safer and better amid a growing "cluster" of cases at the former isolation hotel Delta Fredericton.

Representatives of the departments of health and public safety gathered with Red Cross officials to discuss the program as cases linked to the Delta jumped to 25, including at least one employee.

"I can advise you that specific designated hotels for isolating travellers only have been established in Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton," department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane said in an emailed statement Monday afternoon.

"These hotels will specifically be for isolating travelers only. No other guests will be allowed to stay at these three specific hotels."

Macfarlane did not identify the three designated hotels.

As of Friday, 226 adults and four children were isolating in hotels, including the Delta.

Although Macfarlane did not indicate the plan for them, he previously said those who are at the Delta would continue to isolate in place.

He did not respond to a request for a copy of former or revised program guidelines Public Health created for hotel staff and isolating guests.

On Friday, Bill Lawlor, provincial director of the Red Cross, which is managing the quarantine hotels program, told CBC News that all aspects of the three-week-old program would be reviewed over the weekend.

"Is there something else that we can be doing to make this more safe for travellers, other hotel guests, employees of the hotels?"

Public Health has not said whether an employee, isolating guest or regular guest has been identified as the index case at the Delta Fredericton.

The 'cluster' of COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta Fredericton grew by 10 over the weekend to 25.
The 'cluster' of COVID-19 cases linked to the Delta Fredericton grew by 10 over the weekend to 25.(Shane Fowler/CBC)

The program has stopped publicly stating which hotels are being used, according to Lawlor.

"It actually led to some of the congestion and confusion from travellers and hotels alike, where travellers were reaching hotels and calling them to make reservations in some cases before they even had approval from the GNB travel registration program to enter the province," he had said.

In some cases, they were "panic-reserving," calling several hotels to make reservations to ensure they could get a spot.

Now, once people are officially registered and receive approval from GNB, the Red Cross will work with them to determine the "most appropriate" hotel for them to go to.

When the program began, seven hotels were named.

On April 23, the province announced leisure travellers, business travellers, people moving to New Brunswick, including most students and people helping them move, had to isolate at a designated hotel for at least seven days, at a cost of about $200 a day. If they test negative for COVID-19 on Day 5, they can complete their 14-day isolation at home.

Under eased-up rules announced earlier this month, people can now stay at a stand-alone private residence with government approval.

Premier Blaine Higgs has said he hopes the Atlantic bubble can reopen by July 1.

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