New Brunswick’s new mandatory hotel isolation rules are meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, but they add a new layer of difficulty for many people.
In the chaos of sorting out an interprovincial move during a pandemic, the new rules enacted on April 24 have thrown a wrench in the Deslauriers family’s plans.
“It’s unpredictable,” says Saskia Deslauriers.
“We’ve planned, but it’s become unpredictable.”
Currently living in Kingston, Ont., Saskia and her husband Mike bought a home near Riverview after only seeing it virtually.
The couple, their two teenage children, two large dogs and three cats will all make the move in June — and now, it’s looking like that group’s going to spend seven days in close quarters.
“We don’t know how we’re going to function in a hotel room,” Mike Deslauriers says.
Mike says a call to the Government of New Brunswick yielded advice to delay the move – but that’s not an option. The sale on both their current home in Ontario and the new home in New Brunswick close in June.
They say they’ve called around to many departments and services with various questions but the only concrete answer they’ve been able to get is that a Red Cross volunteer will be able to take their dogs on required walks – raising further questions over liability.
The whole thing would be easier, they say, if they were allowed to self-isolate at their new house.
“We have a safe home, our home, that we could safely quarantine at,” says Mike.
“It makes zero sense to us.”
He says the family also worries about being near travellers who could end up testing positive for the virus. Concerns, he and Saskia say, that have not been eased by their struggle to get information.
“It’s a do now, think later decision,” says Saskia of the province’s isolation mandate.
Stakeholders in New Brunswick’s accommodations industry say they too have unanswered questions.
“There’s been a lot of communications issues during the pandemic,” says Ron Toogood, president of the Greater Moncton Hotel Association.
“I understand the decision was quite rushed by government, but it would’ve been nice if the industry – even through our industry association – had have been given a heads-up on this.”
Toogood says the handful of hotels selected may have been consulted – but nobody else was.
“The rest of the industry was completely blindsided,” he says.
“It is what it is now.”
Before the rule came into effect, Toogood says his hotels – and others province-wide – had been facilitating self-isolating effectively.
“All of the sudden to have this rule thrown at us, there’s been a lot of revenue losses at a lot of hotels,” he says.
He says two other hotel owners have pulled out of the self-isolation program after an influx of phoned-in questions and concerns.
At a provincial COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Dr. Jenniffer Russell said those hotels have not been replaced with different designated isolation hotels within their regions.
“I’m not aware that there will be replacements for those hotels,” she says.
“JPS [New Brunswick’s Department of Justice and Public Safety] has been working been working very hard to make sure that that process flows as smoothly as possible, but I am aware it has been challenging,” says Dr. Russell.
Toogood and the Deslauriers, while on different sides of the tumultuous new rule, echo a sense of unfairness that many have had to confront in some way or another throughout the pandemic – particularly in this third wave.
“COVID has not been fair,” says Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. “This pandemic is not fair.
“It’s been really, really difficult living under these conditions but we just need to get control over this pandemic,” Alderdice says.
The Deslauriers still have about two months before their move – hoping for clarity in the weeks before hitting the road.
In the meantime, they’ll have to pack their patience along with all of their possessions.