Canada worried by sexual assaults during hotel quarantine

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The Canadian government says it is concerned by the multiple hotel sexual assaults involving travelers during COVID-19 quarantine enforcement, but will continue with the programmes, cabinet ministers told the House of Commons.

To date, two women have been assaulted after being subject to government quarantine measures. A woman identified as “Sarah” was assaulted in her state-designated hotel room near the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport.

Another woman was assaulted at her home by a state-trained security guard during a quarantine enforcement check.

“I am deeply concerned by the reports of violence and sexual assault,” Chrystia Freeland said during plenary question period session.

Canada’s Conservative Party, led by Shadow Minister for Health Michelle Rempel Garner, has called on the Trudeau government to suspend the hotel quarantine programme and introduce an at-home quarantine verification system by properly trained and vetted security agents.

Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu rejected the calls for the revision of entry programmes, arguing that they are designed to “keep Canadians safe.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet members have boasted that Canada’s entry requirements are among the strictest in the world.

Canada’s new enhanced entry requirements, including the out-of-pocket hotel quarantine for incoming air passengers, came into effect on February 22.

Measures, including the hotel quarantine requirement, have been met with backlash, with some likening them to internment camps.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has said the hotel quarantine plan violated citizens’ rights to mobility and had indicated a willingness to challenge the measures in court.

Although the Canadian government is constitutionally prohibited from barring citizens from leaving the country, the Trudeau government has used the enhanced border security measures to discourage international travel amid the pandemic.

All entrants into Canada must complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine. As of March 25, 2020, Quarantine Act violators may be subject to a fine of up to 537,000 dollars and/or imprisonment for six months.

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