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Calgary woman worried after booking room in hotel used for COVID-19 isolating

A Calgary woman is raising concerns after she booked a hotel room unaware the hotel was being used for COVID-19 isolation.

The Alberta government has been offering free hotel stays since May 2020 for people who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, either because they tested positive or were close contacts.

The hotels can use all or a portion of the rooms, and they are given government funds for deep cleaning as well as security.

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Jamie Dyck booked a room at the Holiday Inn and Suites Calgary South Conference Centre last week. She said she encountered another hotel guest by the elevators who said he was isolating there.

“We were going to get on with him, and he said, ‘No. You guys don’t want to get on this ride with me. I’m one of the positives staying at the hotel,’” Dyck said.

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Dyck went to the front desk and said she was told by a staff member there were people staying at the hotel to self-isolate. At that point, she decided to check out early before staying the night.

“All of a sudden, we were put in a position where we have absolutely no control over the situation anymore, and it’s frightening. I left because I was so upset,” Dyck said.

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Dyck said she ended up getting a refund from the hotel but suggested there should be more information available to consumers.

“They should be more transparent with what’s going on at the hotels,” Dyck said.

An Alberta government spokesperson said due to privacy concerns, hotels are not required to disclose information about isolating Albertans to their guests.

Hotels must restrict isolating guests to one floor, and they are not allowed to leave their room except for COVID-19 testing or for medical appointments.

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In December 2020, the province began offering an emergency payout of $625 for residents in select neighbourhoods in Calgary and Edmonton, which was made available to all Alberta residents in February 2021.

“To qualify for the $625 on completion of the program, guests who are isolating must adhere to all COVID-19 protocols. Isolating guests must agree to a declaration of isolation that must be followed to keep themselves and others safe while they are isolating in a provincial commercial isolation space,” said McKenzie Kibler, press secretary to Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver, in a statement to Global News.

“When a guest attends an isolation hotel through the provincial program, they are not permitted to leave their room, other than to receive COVID-19 testing mandated by the local medical officer of health when community paramedics are unavailable to do mobile testing. They can also attend medical appointments mandated or approved by a local health-care provider.”

As of April 22, 2021, there were 488 people staying in isolation rooms across Alberta, including 117 in Calgary and 108 in Edmonton.

Since the launch of the program in May 2020, 3,433 people have stayed at provincial isolation hotels.

No one from the Holiday Inn was available for comment on Sunday.

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