Quebecers returning from a trip abroad are unimpressed by the government’s automated calls to ensure that they comply with quarantine rules.
“It’s a robotic call asking you a few questions. But even if someone called me and I was at the grocery store, for example, I could press the 1 to answer that “yes”, I am at home, ”says Diane Champagne, in quarantine after a trip to France. Dominican Republic.
Since July, she has made three trips to the South. During her quarantines, never a “natural person” made a check with her, she assures.
“I have never spoken to anyone face to face. How can they know if we are leaving our house? She asks herself.
Travelers must also provide certain information daily after entering Canada through the ArriveCAN app.
The application “does not use GPS or any other technology […] to follow your position, ”says the federal government website.
“I get a notification from the app every morning and I file a report on my condition. It is only one question whether I have developed any symptoms [de la COVID-19]. It takes a few seconds to complete, ”explains Pierre-Alexandre Jamot, who visited his parents living in France during the holiday season.
Not stressful to lie
Mr Jamot received three robocalls at random times during his quarantine, which ended on Friday.
“I would have expected to talk to someone on the phone. Robotic calls have their limits. People can say anything. But if there was someone on the phone, it would be more stressful to lie, ”said the one who claims to have respected his quarantine to the letter.
Kristina Michaud, Bloc Québécois public safety critic, has the same echo from travelers she has questioned about the quarantine.
“They had to fill out a questionnaire at the airport, but nothing more. Several days pass before travelers receive a call. And when they receive one, it’s an automated call, ”she says.
More control required
The MP is urging the federal government to follow up more closely, including sending agents knocking on the doors of returning travelers or designating quarantine areas in hotels.
“We can also go to the source of the problem. […] The solution is that people don’t travel when it’s not essential ”, insists Mme Michaud.
For her part, Diane Champagne also wants more control since she fears that some travelers will not respect this period of isolation, which she considers essential.
“I would feel reassured if an inspector knocked on my door. At least I would know that we are watching people a bit, ”she says.
Interventions by the police since entry into force in March 2020 the obligation to self-isolate when returning from a trip
- 126 tickets
- 8 summary conviction offenses
- 196 verbal warnings
- 22 written warnings
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada (as of January 5, 2021)
A border officer wants to contribute
A border officer who has seen his workload drop considerably since March wonders why he could not be called upon to verify that returning travelers are respecting their quarantine.
“I understand that this is not in our usual tasks, but we must remember that we are not in a normal situation. In an exceptional situation, it takes exceptional measures ”, launches the one who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals from his employer.
According to him, border officers are in the best position to check travelers, especially by knocking on doors.
“I’m not saying that we should knock on all the doors of all travelers. But if we did a little bit in our working days, it would at least give the impression […] that there is a certain control ”, underlines the customs officer.
“We have nothing to do with our days. There are no more tourist flights arriving at our airport, so several agents are paid to do nothing, ”he continues.
Not closed to the idea
For its part, the Customs and Immigration Union is not closing the door to this suggestion.
“It is something that the government [fédéral] could have watched. I guess it would take training. And this should not be done to the detriment of the work we have to do, ”explains National President Jean-Pierre Fortin.
For the moment, the role of customs officials “is limited” to raising awareness among travelers and informing them of the obligation to respect a quarantine, specifies Jean-Pierre Fortin.
Since December 22, only three tickets have been issued to travelers who did not meet their quarantine, according to the most recent data from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The agency admits not knowing if it has a complete picture of the situation since the local police forces are not obliged to send the information.