5 Things you need to know about the Government’s Quarantine Hotel Stay Mess

Well, last week was pretty wild, and we do not know whether it will continue. Because of the Canadian government’s changes, corporate relocation services are harder than ever. The Canadian Government’s roll out of its mandatory hotel stay has most people confused and scrambling. So, here are 5 things you need to know.

1. Long Waits on Government Phone Lines

NOTE: Even though the traveler will take a PCR test at the Canadian airport, they still must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of getting on their flight from overseas. In addition, they must continue to fill out the ArriveCAN app.

A traveler has to call one of two numbers to book into one of the quarantine hotels for their three day stay.

Overseas: 1-613-830-2992 (it is a collect call)

North America: 1-800-294-8253

Regular hours of operation: 8 am to 11 pm ET, 7 days a week. Emergency calls only can be made after hours.

The employee chooses from the listed hotel locations and must provide:

  • traveler name(s)
  • date(s) of birth
  • gender (male, female, or undisclosed)
  • arrival city and date
  • payment information
  • special requests and accessibility concerns
  • pet information
  • email address

The booking agency sends an email confirmation to travelers within 4 hours of booking.

It seems that the minimum wait time on the phone is 3 hours, unless Amex Travel staffs up for the call volume, or if things die down after this first bulge. All Points believes that the government and Amex Travel have underestimated the demand for these hotels, which is odd, given that they should have travel statistics at their fingertips.

Transferees have reported wait times greater than 8 hours and even calls being dropped during these waits.

One of our transferees gave up on the call, and just flew into Toronto, and he found help at the airport to book a hotel. We do not recommend this.

2. Do not try to book through the hotel directly.

Even though the government lists participating hotels on its website, we do not recommend anyone try to reach them directly. The hotels will not provide any information. They are under strict instructions NOT to take any bookings from any individuals.

3. Third parties reportedly can book on behalf of a traveller

We spoke to ArriveCAN, who gave us greater information than that on the government website.

They confirmed that third parties can book the hotel for the arriving employees. Employees must be willing to give all the necessary information to that third party. As part of our corporate relocation services, All Points does is doing this for some clients. This is still early, so we are watching our success rate closely.

Once completed, All Points provides the assignee with the booking information. The assignee must UPDATE THEIR ARRIVECAN app.

4. What if my assignee cannot get through on the line and has to fly?

If the assignee does not book a hotel in advance, the assignee can still travel to Canada and can try to book from the airport. The, if there is no success, they will be taken to a Quarantine Facility for the 3 days. As soon as they receive their negative test result, they leave the Quarantine Facility and continue on to their pre-planned remaining quarantine time. 

5. What if all hotels are booked?

If all hotels in the destination city are completely booked (let’s be honest, not many hotels signed up – there is only one in Vancouver!), the assignee must go to the government “Quarantine Facility.” We have no information on the cost of the Quarantine Facility.

Other important information

Outdoor time

Each hotel has its own schedule for outdoor time.  Hotel employees accompany guests outside. Hotels allow guests to go outside multiple times per day.   In addition, some hotels accept pets and provide a more flexible outdoor schedule.

When should you start Temporary Accommodation and schedule the grocery shop

Base on our experience, quarantine hotels frequently discharge assignees from the quarantine hotel early – in as little as 36 hours.  We have even had assignees exit the airport based on a fast-response negative test, and not have to go to the hotel at all. Companies previously planned for temporary accommodation to start 3 days after entry to Canada, as the assignee was going to be stuck at the quarantine hotel for 3 days.  Since, this is not the case, All Points recommends:

  • Book all Temporary Accommodations for the same days after arrival to Canada. This way, the assignee is safe to move on if discharged early. This may create overlap in those instances where someone is not discharged quickly, but it is far safer to follow this practice.
  • Grocery shops should be booked for the same date as the temporary accommodation’s first day.

Employers need to decide if an employee gets up to 27 days in temporary accommodation (based on a 30 day booking and the employee getting out in three days), or if they extend the period by 3 extra days, just in case they stay in the maximum period at the hotel.

Cost of Government Mandated Hotel for those with Lump Sums

As part of our corporate relocation services, we certainly see a fair number of employees relocating under lump sums. Companies should cover the cost of government mandated quarantine hotels for those with lump sums, outside of the value of those lump sums. After all, employees cannot avoid this cost. Fortunately, we are hearing consistent stories of costs below the original government projection of $2,000.

Costs of these hotel stopovers may vary by location. The price will include costs associated with the:

  • food
  • room
  • security
  • transportation
  • infection prevention and control measures

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