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Some Calgary hotels are bracing for some new — and possibly irate — guests.
On Friday, the federal government announced mandatory testing requirements at select airports for people returning to Canada amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which means while the travellers wait for their test result, they’ll be forced to quarantine for up to three days at a designated hotel – on their own dime — at a cost of at least $2,000.
The Calgary Hotel Association told Global News its members are preparing their hotels — and themselves — for any possible backlash that could come as early as this Thursday.
“We were in no way involved with where the $2,000 came from,” CHA executive director Sol Zia said.
“What we do know is it includes the cost of the hotel, the cost of the testing, the cost of the screening officers and all the staff that will be required to do this. But it is not money going to the hotel.”
Zia said the participating hotels will be paid, but only a daily rate fee and he doesn’t expect the program to generate much, if any, revenue for the embattled industry.
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Zia added the program is meant to deter travel and keep those who do travel safe — not make money.
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Still, he acknowledged some of the quarantined guests may feel differently.
“We are genuinely worried about the anger, or the wrath, from guests forced to quarantine in a hotel. They may not take their anger out at the airport with border agents but may wait to take that anger out on hotel employees.”
Zia said he hoped guests would be kind and patient, and realize the employees are only there to keep them safe.
The association expected hotels closest to the airport would be the ones participating in the program, although Zia added the selection process would be done by federal officials.
He added proximity to YYC Calgary International makes sense since it will make it easier for guests to be tested and for screening officers to move back and forth between the hotels and the airport.
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Zia added no hotel is being forced to participate, and only some hotels will qualify.
“All of the hotels that are in consideration for this program are full-service hotels, meaning they have the ability to prepare and provide room service.”
As for preparation, he said selected Calgary hotels are COVID(-19) ready.
“They all have the highest safety standards already in place,” he added. “That’s PPE, plexiglass, signage, points of entry and points of movement in the hotel.”
The association said it’s getting daily briefings about when the new rules will take effect in Calgary, but the timelines are still up in the air, making it tough to prepare.
“I would have said last Friday would have been great to have all of the details,” Zia said.
“We understand the government is still working on it. We hope to have all of the details in terms of how travellers will be affected and where they’ll be placed by Tuesday.”
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