MONTREAL – Lennard Skead says he felt like he was jailed for a crime he didn’t commit when he returned to Canada from South Africa on Thursday.

Skead, who is in Brandon, Man. Lives said he was not allowed to leave a quarantine hotel in Toronto until the day after he received a negative COVID-19 test result upon arriving in Canada.

“Our negative results came out on Saturday, but we are not allowed to leave until the quarantine officer calls us and tells us you can go now. Nobody called us. Nobody called us until Sunday, ”said Skead, who was out with his wife, Charlotte.

Skead, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, said in an interview Monday that when he was told he was about to leave, he had already canceled a flight back to Manitoba and left it at the hotel for another day. It was Skead’s third negative COVID-19 test of the trip.

Canadians traveling from any of 10 African countries, including South Africa and Egypt, are required to take a COVID-19 test in the country they are traveling from, a second test in transit, and a third test upon arrival in Canada. You must stay in a designated facility upon arrival.

Health Canada said in an email on Monday that the requirement for in-transit testing “is such that there is a risk of the traveler being exposed to the virus and its variants between the time of testing and boarding the plane which can take up to 72 hours ”. , is reduced. “

Tiffany Gaura, who returned to Calgary from Cairo on Saturday, said she felt like she was being punished for her trip to Africa after landing in Canada.

“From the moment you hand over your passport, they’ll immediately call someone who will stay with you, lead you to a separate second control area, where they will question you in detail, read you through your rights, tell you that you have a right to have a lawyer and you are being transported to an isolation facility by the federal government, “she said in an interview Monday.

While the quarantine facility is in a hotel, it does not have any of the usual hotel services such as a restaurant, dry cleaning or room service.

Gaura, who was out with her two children, ages five and eight, said she didn’t understand why she had to stay in a quarantine hotel instead of returning to her nearby home for isolation.

“This is absurd for a family with a solid quarantine plan, who has not violated any public health guidelines in the past, who is fully vaccinated, who follows all the rules, who did all of the PCR testing,” she said.

When asked about reports of poor conditions in federal quarantine facilities, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said Monday the requirement was “a necessary and fair compromise”.

“We will spare no expense or resources when it comes to protecting Canadians, including at the border. We will continue to provide clear travel advice to all Canadians and others traveling to Canada,” he told reporters in Ottawa .

Gaura said she believed Canada’s decision to impose additional restrictions on African nations only, at a time when the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus is present in Europe and the United States, is “opportunistic and xenophobic.”

She said she was lucky to be able to go through German customs and get a PCR test while in transit in Frankfurt because while Canada has imposed restrictions on Egypt, Germany has not.

On Saturday, the federal government announced that travelers coming from South Africa and traveling via Frankfurt would be exempt from the obligation to check in transit until December 13th.

Tasha-ann Bussell of Rossland, BC, whose husband was in South Africa for his brother’s wedding, said he could use this new exemption to catch a flight home due to land in Calgary on Monday.

“He’s exhausted and stressed,” Bussell said in an interview on Monday. “We have three young children and my youngest and middle child’s birthday is in December, so he’ll miss that … at least he’ll be home for Christmas.”

She adds that she is not mad at the government for implementing the rules because one of her children is immunocompromised.

“I really appreciate that you are doing your best,” she said. “It’s just hard. That’s all.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 6, 2021.

– With files from Fakiha Baig in Edmonton.


This story was produced with financial support from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.