You will have to forgive Steve Duesing for not believing there are no COVID-19 internment centers in Canada.
“I’m in one,” the 34-year-old Scarborough man told the Toronto Sun on Tuesday.
Not by choice.
“I was told when I arrived (at Pearson International Airport) Sunday night from Charlotte that it was either three days quarantine or go to jail.”
So he was escorted on a shuttle bus from Pearson to the nearby Radisson Hotel on Dixon Rd. But this is no normal hotel stay.
“I am not allowed to leave the room,” he said. “There is a guard at the end of the hall.”
So, he must remain in a ninth-floor hotel room while waiting for the results of a COVID test he was forced to take.
Joined by award-winning photographer Jack Boland, I interviewed Steve on the phone from the parking lot as we looked at him through the window of his room where he could see Tim Hortons, Harvey’s, Subway, and Swiss Chalet.
“But I was told I can’t order in food,” said Steve.
He’s effectively incarcerated.
“It feels like that,” he said. “I don’t have any say in it.”
The worst part is before he left visiting a friend in North Carolina, he got a COVID-19 test as required by new rules.
“It cost me $130,” he said. “I tested negative.”
Duesing said his ordeal began when the Public Health Agency of Canada didn’t accept this rapid test and ordered him detained until the results of their own test were known. The agency did not respond to Sun‘s request for comment.
“I was escorted by police to a shuttle bus and taken to this hotel, which is fenced off from the public.”
It definitely has a detention centre feel to it. There is a barrier preventing anybody from coming and going and a security detail checks every vehicle entering the property.
It’s a lonely, solitary existence, added Steve. “I should be allowed to leave at 10 p.m. tonight (Tuesday).”
This doesn’t seem legal in a free country. It also seems punitive. If he had a fever or cough, perhaps precautionary measures of some kind could be taken.
But taking away someone’s liberty is obscene. It feels like a violation of basic human rights in a country that purports to champion such freedoms.
Notice in his room said, “You must remain in your assigned room and are required to limit face-to-face contact with others outside of your immediate room assignment.”
Just like a prisoner, he gets water sent up and a sandwich.
“I don’t have any symptoms,” said Steve. “I am angry, but other than that, I’m fine.”
But he worries about the eight other people taken off his American Airlines flight, and dozens of others, inside this hotel. ”Some cried and said they would lose their jobs or didn’t have babysitters,” he said.
There was no leniency. They were no longer free. They were ordered into government custody.
“It’s very annoying, but I couldn’t imagine going through this with a family or having people waiting for me,” he said.
This big question is, will he have to pay to be forced into this hotel. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said people will have to finance their own mandatory hotel quarantine when travelers land at Pearson.
“I haven’t signed anything or agreed to pay for anything, and I won’t,” he said. “I think I got lucky and arrived the last day before you had to start paying because Trudeau said people will have to pay $2,000 to $3,000 to stay the three days to cover the cost of security, doctors, and food.”
Whatever it costs, it’s not a hotel stay, but a bizarre pandemic rendition into a Canadian COVID containment hotel!