Holiday travellers stuck at Dominican Republic resort due to difficulty getting COVID-19 tests

Click to play video 'Montreal family stuck in the Dominican Republic' Montreal family stuck in the Dominican Republic
A Quebec family has a cautionary tale about vacationing down south during the pandemic. A Montreal couple and their two children travelled to the Dominican Republic just before the new year. As Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports, now they find themselves unable to get the COVID-19 test which would allow them to board a plane back home. – Jan 15, 2021

A Montreal couple and their two children who travelled to the Dominican Republic just before New Year’s now find themselves unable to get a COVID-19 test, which they need in order to board a plane back home.

“It wasn’t such a big deal when we booked,” said Moira Coutu, who booked her family’s annual holiday vacation in late November.

Read more: Prime minister pleads with Canadians not to travel abroad, people do it anyway

Despite warnings from the federal and provincial governments, Coutu and her husband, from Montreal, decided to take the trip anyway, knowing they would have to quarantine for two weeks upon their return.

But after they arrived at the Casa Marina Reef Resort near Puerto Plata, new rules came into effect for their return.

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“I started having calls from people in Canada saying, ‘You’re going to need a test to come back.’ I said, ‘Okay, that’s okay.’ We decided to travel. That means there are certain conditions,” Coutu explained.

Read more: Planning travel? Think again, feds urge in coronavirus ad blitz

She paid $80 USD per test for the four of them, but did not receive the results. They were not allowed to board their returning flight on Monday.

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She then paid for a second round of tests, but was warned the results would likely not arrive within the 72-hour delay required by the Canadian government.

In the meantime, she and her family are staying at the hotel, paying out of pocket. She said she doesn’t know when they’ll be able to return to Montreal.

“Don’t let people travel. If they don’t want people to travel, then just don’t let them travel from the beginning,” she said.

Air Transat declined an on-camera interview with Global News, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed that since Jan. 7, the tour operator has had to bar 269 passengers from boarding flights because they did not have negative COVID-19 tests.

The spokesperson also added that prior warning and better collaboration from the federal government could have helped avoid these kinds of problems.

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Read more: Does Canada need tighter travel restrictions to control COVID-19?

Another couple from Stratford, Ont., was on their honeymoon at the same resort as Coutu. They also paid for tests, but only one of them received a result.

“So they forced us to separate and for her to leave to go back to Canada, leaving me here,” said Tammy Walton, who explained that she could hardly afford to pay for the extra hotel stay.

Another Montreal couple tested positive for COVID-19. They are now quarantining in their hotel room and nervous about the future.

“I don’t know if I’m going to keep getting those results positive and I don’t know, I might lose my job,” said Samy Tamimount.

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