Update from Hotel Association of Canada

The communication from the Prime Minister last week on the new accommodation and quarantine measures has created a fair amount of activity/questions/concerns within the industry. Today, the Government of Canada released new details related to mandatory hotel stay for all air travellers arriving in Canada. Processes to support these measures are in development and no date has been announced for when these measures will come into force. 

HAC continues to work with the Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to ensure that hoteliers have all the information they need to make educated decisions around engagement. At this time, we can share the following answers to some key questions we’ve received:

What are the new accommodation and quarantine measures?

  • People who travel by air for non-essential reasons, such as vacation, will face new measures and expenses when they return to Canada. Travellers must still provide proof of a negative pre-departure test. Once these new measures are enforced, travellers will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival in Canada and reserve a room in a hotel for 3 nights at a Government-approved hotel at their own cost, while they await their test results. This new 3-day accommodation requirement will be mandatory for all air travellers arriving in Canada, with some limited exceptions. Travellers must remain in their hotel rooms. If a traveller presents symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test during their stay at a Government approved hotel they will be transported to a designated quarantine facility by PHAC.

How can I become a Government-approved hotel?

  • Today, the Government announced that the application process and selection criteria will be available in the coming days. To be considered, hotels must be located near one of the 4 Canadian airports accepting international flights.
  • PHAC will be requiring approved hotels to meet a number of requirements including HVAC specifications, 24 hour entry, segregation of regular guests and quarantine guests, check in and check out monitoring/reporting to PHAC, and the ability to monitor and report travellers departing without authority. 
  • Interested hotels may submit applications as soon as the process opens. The application will be available online here. Please visit this web page regularly for updates.

 What is a Federal Quarantine Facility/Isolation Center?

  • There has been some confusion around this piece. For clarification, PHAC has an active procurement processes for quarantine facilities and isolation centers in regions across the country as a part of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response measures.
  • If a traveller presents symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test during the mandatory quarantine period at a Government-approved hotel, they will be transferred to one of these designated quarantine facilities. Similarly if they land with symptoms, they are immediately transported to a quarantine facility.

What if I invest to meet the standards, pay for security and no one books at my hotel? Will the government reimburse us?

  • Unlike the designated quarantine facilities, PHAC is not directly contracting with the hotels or booking the entire hotel. PHAC is transferring the financial risk to the hotel operators.

Why is the Government choosing airport locations?

  • The already reduced number of international non-essential travellers is expected to decline significantly when the new measures take effect in mid-February. Flights have already been cancelled to popular sun destinations.
  • PHAC has deemed proximity to the airport an essential criteria in order to help minimize exposure of potentially infected travellers.  
  • The 4 Canadian airports that will be allowed to accept international flights are:
    • Vancouver International Airport
    • Calgary International Airport
    • Toronto Pearson International Airport
    • Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

What is the projected volume of business?

  • The already reduced number of international non-essential travellers is expected to decline significantly when the new measures take effect in mid-February. 
  • Unfortunately, the communication made it sound like a big opportunity, with a high price tag, at a time when all our owners are in need of occupancy. 

 Are essential travellers required to cancel bookings with existing hotels and stay at a Government-approved hotel?

  • Essential international travellers can proceed with existing bookings. Domestic travellers can stay anywhere as well. The Government is targeting the non-essential traveller who is planning a leisure holiday. They will be clarifying this when more details on the program are announced. 

 Can I seek this designation to take international leisure passengers, and still accept bookings with other customers? 

  • Yes, the idea is that the hotel could receive both kinds of guests, but this may present operational and liability challenges. We have heard from some insurers that coverage could be lost under the model being proposed. Operators should look into their coverage.

 Mandated passengers may be difficult upon arrival or during the several days of quarantine at the hotel. Already we have seen protests at Calgary airport hotels with the police called. Will the government provide security or enforcement to protect hotel staff and other guests?

  • Hotel operators will be responsible for security. They can call local law enforcement to levy fines of $250 to $1,000. Operators can hire duty police as security as needed, but at this stage, the Government is not planning to support any of these incremental fees.

 How do you break down the fee for the traveller’s 3-night stay?

  • This 3-night fee will be inclusive of security, insurance, food, accommodations, medical services, infection control, transport, enforcement, cleaning, etc. The Government suggested cost of $2,000 would include all of these items, and is designed to be a deterrent for those considering winter travel. Travellers will need to pre-book this non-refundable fee before they are allowed to proceed with travel bookings.