Why isn’t the federal government coming clean regarding the COVID quarantine hotels it is operating?
You may recall that last week we paid a visit to the Radisson Hotel near Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. We went there to chronicle the escape of a father and son who were placed in this property against their will, after returning to Toronto from Jamaica. It turns out that this hotel is a federal quarantine facility — although a hotel employee we spoke to laughably claimed the property was closed to the general public because it was “under construction,” even though there were no construction workers nor construction equipment in sight.
We were then threatened with a trespassing charge if we didn’t leave the premises (and sure enough, a pair of Toronto police cruisers made an appearance).
This week, we were tipped off about another hotel in Vaughan, Ont., the Sheraton Four Points, that is also apparently being used as a quarantine facility. Signs at the front entrance indicate that the property is closed, but clearly, that is not the case, as there are indeed people residing there. No one at the hotel would speak to us — but they did, however, call the police.
So, what’s going on? Why the lack of transparency?
Last week, I reached out to the media relations department of Public Safety Canada in Ottawa to try to get some answers. I was told I was dealing with the wrong ministry, and I was informed to get in touch with the Public Health Agency of Canada. Which I did. But so far, it’s been radio silence (of note, we did see a Public Health Agency of Canada sign on the wall of the Sheraton Four Points).
It’s downright baffling that nobody on site or in the federal bureaucracy in Ottawa will answer our questions. One can’t pretend that a multi-storey hotel does not exist!
For what it is worth, here are the questions I sought answers to:
- Could you kindly provide a listing of these [quarantine] hotels?
- Are those travellers who are being told to stay at these properties legally bound to do so?
- We have visited some of the quarantine hotels in the Toronto area (i.e., Radisson Airport) and found there was a lack of transparency by staff as to what these hotels are being used for these days. We've been told these properties have been closed to the general public due to construction or renovations, but that is clearly not the case. Why the misinformation?
- Why are the people staying in these hotels not allowed to purchase outside food with their own money?
- What is the cost to the government in terms of booking these hotels for quarantine purposes?
Alas, the silence has been deafening. And again, the question is: why?