Fact Check: Canada Is NOT Putting Passengers Arriving On International Flights In 'Forced Detention...COVID Camp'

Fact Check

  • by: Olivera Perkins
Fact Check: Canada Is NOT Putting Passengers Arriving On International Flights In 'Forced Detention...COVID Camp' Hotel not Camp

Is the Canadian government putting passengers arriving on international flights into 'forced detention' in a 'COVID camp'? No, that's not true: Canada has recently required passengers arriving on international flights, who had traveled for non-essential reasons, to "reserve a room in a hotel for three nights at their own cost," while they await their COVID-19 test results. This quarantine measure is designed to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and its new variants from entering the country.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published February 3, which opened:

Our friends in the Great White North have lost their minds. đŸ¤¯

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Feb 5 22:42:12 2021 UTC)

The headline of a Toronto Sun column posted on torontosun.com February 2, 2021 said this about a quarantined passenger, who arrived on a flight from the United States: "Man in forced detention in a Canada COVID camp."

At some point on February 3, 2021, "Camp" was replaced with "Hotel." The "COVID camp" article continues to be shared on social media. Lead Stories emailed Joe Warmington, whose column contained the headline in question, and Editor-in-chief Adrienne Batra about the headline change. We will update this fact check once they respond.

The Facebook post contains the earlier version of the headline:

"Man in forced detention in a Canada COVID camp"

image (10).png

(Source: torontosun.com screenshot taken on Wednesday Feb 3 19:20:00 2021 UTC)

At some point on February 3, 2021 the headline was revised to:

"Man in forced detention in a Canada COVID hotel"

image (11).png

(Source: torontosun.com screenshot taken on Wednesday Feb 3 19:30:00 2021 UTC)

The Government of Canada announced January 29, 2021 that the new measures for arriving international air trave lers would take effect in less than a week. A news release on the topic states:

[E]ffective midnight (11:59 PM EST) February 3, 2021, in addition to proof of a negative pre-departure test, Transport Canada will expand the existing international flight restrictions which funnel scheduled international commercial passenger flights into four Canadian airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport. The new restrictions will include scheduled commercial passenger flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction.

Private/Business and charter flights from all countries will also be required to land at the four airports. Flights from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and cargo-only flights will remain exempt.

As soon as possible in the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada, with very limited exceptions, must reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, and take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost. More details will be available in the coming days.

The new measures target people who have travelled for non-essential reasons, such as vacations. These latest requirements for international air travel are in addition to another demand that such passengers have proof of a negative molecular COVID test prior to boarding. (These are the tests performed by inserting a long swab into the cavity between the nose and mouth.) At a February 5, 2021 news conference, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair explained why the additional measures are necessary:

These measures have been designed, first and foremost, to protect Canadians from, and to curb the spread of, COVID-19 and its emergent variants. We also hope that it will have the effect of disincentivizing non-essential travel outside of Canada. And to that end, it is very clear that Canadians have heard the message that now is not the time to travel. And since the introduction of the new requirement of the proof of a valid [negative] COVID-19 test prior to boarding, there has been an overall 46 percent drop in international travel.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Olivera Perkins

Olivera Perkins is a veteran journalist and fact checker at Lead Stories, who has covered a variety of beats, including labor, employment and workforce issues for several years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Olivera has received state and national awards for her coverage, including those from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW). She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Read more about or contact Olivera Perkins

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