Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his advisors have opted instead to raise the fine for refusing to go to a COVID hotel to $5,000

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Rabbi Moshe Stern and his wife Sarah flew into Toronto from Israel Monday morning armed with two doctors’ letters outlining why they should not be sent to a quarantine hotel.

The letters, from a Toronto and an Israeli doctor, state the respected rabbi emeritus of Shaarei Tefillah on Bathurst St. keeps strictly kosher and suffers from diabetes. His wife, the letters explain, has hypertension and extreme anxiety, which would be exacerbated with confinement to a small hotel room.

The two, said Stern, were fully vaccinated by the end of January in Israel.

But he told me although the letters asking that they be permitted to quarantine in their own apartment were “clear,” the federal public health official they dealt with could not have cared less.

“This person was so cold and her actions so calculated,” the 78-year-old said this week. “It was like I was talking to a wall.”

Rabbi Moshe Stern, 78.
Rabbi Moshe Stern, 78. Photo by Supplied

She refused to look at their vaccination papers and kept screaming at them that they needed to go to a hotel, he claimed.

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When he insisted she check with her boss, she disappeared for a good seven minutes to consult an apparent Health Inspector. When she returned she said the inspector confirmed they don’t qualify for an exemption, he said.

He suspects there was no inspector — as she refused to give her name and the name of her alleged boss.

After Stern reiterated that he’s not going to the hotel because he won’t “risk his wife’s health,” they were each handed tickets.

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The two tickets were $3,750 each or a total of $7,500.

“It was so callous,” he said, adding that his 74-year-wife was crying she was so upset. “There was a total lack of empathy.”

Stern — who travelled to Israel before the hotel quarantine was put in place — said it was an experience he never would have believed would have occurred in Canada.

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The hotel quarantine is not only highly undemocratic, it has become laughable– and in some cases dangerous.

There have been COVID outbreaks at GTA airport hotels and a federal advisory panel — responsible for advice on COVID-19 testing and screening — recommended just last week that the feds put an end to the mandatory hotel quarantine.

The panel said some travellers are opting to pay the fine instead of offering a quarantine plan and noted the huge administrative burden with managing the program.

  1. Travellers from an international flight are directed to the COVID-19 testing area as part of Canada's measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, February 24, 2021.

    LEVY: Traveller warned to be polite to border guard or pay higher fine

  2. Robin St. Jules and her 84-year-old dad, Bob Leishman.

    LEVY: Air Canada grounds Ontario woman and her elderly dad over COVID test paperwork

  3. A group of protesters rally out front of the Radisson hotel on Dixon Rd., where travellers are forced to quarantine after arriving at nearby Pearson International Airport, on Thursday Feb. 11, 2021.

    LEVY: Future of COVID jails for travellers unclear

I would add to this the purely arbitrary nature of the decision-making by border guards and public health officials

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The panel proposed travellers present a quarantine plan upon entry and, if not approved, they be sent to a designated government facility.

But instead of admitting they’ve made a huge mistake, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his advisors have opted to raise the fines handed to those who refuse to go to a hotel to $5,000 per person.

One wonders whether Trudeau and his delegation will all book themselves into a quarantine hotel for three days when they return from the G7 in London, England and the Canadian-European Union Summit in Brussels, Belgium next week. After all, we wouldn’t want them spreading the variants of concern and the hotel quarantine is in place until at least June 21.

I’m guessing not.

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That said, a Health Canada spokesperson said until they learn more about the vaccines’ ability to prevent transmission it is important to follow “multiple personal protective practices at once” regardless of vaccination.

“The science is currently unclear on the transmissibility of the virus that causes COVID-19 after someone is vaccinated,” the spokesperson said. “We expect to know more in the coming weeks as research and real-world evidence evolve.”

For heaven’s sake, we have “real-world evidence” south of the border and from Israel.

How long will the government continue to hold us hostage and punish vaccinated Canadian citizens like Rabbi Stern and his wife?

slevy@postmedia.com

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