A Rosebud family is facing time in forced quarantine at home following their return from a trip to Nevada that derailed as they reentered Canada.
Craig Smith, his wife and children went south of the border to attend a wedding in late August after assuming they had followed all the proper COVID-19 protocols in order to travel.
“We got a negative COVID-19 test to go there. We’ve been fully vaccinated, all of us except for my 11-year-old because he can’t get vaccinated,” said Smith.
Following the wedding he said the family got subsequent COVID-19 tests after arriving in Great Falls, Montana as they began to coordinate coming back to Canada.
“The big mistake that we made was, we asked the people at the testing center ‘is this the test that we need to get across the Canadian Border?’ The question I should have asked is, ‘is this a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test?’”
A PCR test is designed to detect genetic material from a specific organism such as a virus. In this case being COVID-19.
According to the Government of Canada, prior to entering Canada all travelers five years of age or older must provide proof of an accepted type of COVID-19 test, including those who are fully vaccinated.
If driving, which was the case for the family, a test must be taken within 72 hours of the planned entry into Canada.
Smith provided proof of his families negative resulted COVID-19 test, which is clearly marked as a PCR— one of the accepted types of tests required at the border.
Additionally, and although it is not an accepted type of test at the border, Smith and his family also took a rapid antigen COVID-19 test prior to leaving Canada initially, which was returned negative. He has provided proof of his test result.
Regardless of the results, he was told at the border that they had taken an unacceptable test and were required to enter quarantine in Calgary.
Smith, was granted an exception from quarantining at a quarantine site and was told he had six hours to make it home to Rosebud from the border crossing and was instructed to call in upon his arrival at home to confirm he was there.
Once at home, Smith was told if anyone left the property before the quarantine was up, they could face up to a $750,000 fine, would have to quarantine for another 28 days and could potentially face jail time.
“This is a punishment, it is actually not going to stop the spread in any way, shape or form,” said Smith.
During his quarantine, Smith reached out to several governing agencies, including, but not limited to the offices of Martin Shields, Michelle Rempel, Tyler Shandro, and Justin Trudeau.
Smith forwarded his inquiries to the Strathmore Times to corroborate his story.
After appealing his quarantine to the office of Martin Shields and being deemed ineligible to be exempt from his mandatory quarantine, Smith continued to reach out for help.
Orrin Bliss, a Bow River MP candidate of Alberta’s Maverick Party, called out Martin Shields on twitter for the lack of aid which was offered to the family.
“He asked you for help and guidance, your office told him you were too busy campaigning. Contact the man and hear him out,” tweeted Bliss.
Smith has since been in contact again with the office of Martin Shields, which has submitted a “request for reconsideration of mandatory quarantine for compassionate grounds” on his behalf.
As of his last communication with the Strathmore Times on Sept. 3, Smith and his family remain in quarantine. Smith said he worries about he and his wife missing work as well as his children missing school as the dilemma continues.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times