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N.B. to consider hotel quarantine exemptions on ‘case-by-case basis’: province

New Brunswick announced Saturday individual cases would be reviewed to determine if people could isolate at a stand-alone residence rather than a designated hotel. Global News file photo

Eight days after announcing non-essential travellers entering New Brunswick would need to isolate at a designated hotel, the provincial government announced it will consider exemptions on a “case-by-case basis.”

People will still need to isolate for 14 days, but the decision to allow for some exceptions was announced in a press release Saturday, although it’s not clear who could be exempt.

“There may be individual cases that require an alternative to a specific hotel as a designated facility, such as a stand-alone residence,” the news release said. “That will be determined on a case-by-case basis, while ensuring any designated isolation site still meets the need to keep New Brunswickers safe.”

The province said anyone with questions on whether they qualify to stay at an alternative location can email the government (TravelRegistration.EnregistrementVoyage@gnb.ca).

In an emailed statement Sunday, Elaine Bell, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Public Safety said, “while we are unable to get into specifics” regarding who would be eligible, “every person’s situation can be different.”

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Read more: More than 2 dozen in N.B. isolation hotels on Day 1 of new rules

“Enhanced compliance checks will be conducted on returning travellers approved to stay in alternative isolation locations during the quarantine period,” the province said. “Anyone found to be non-compliant will be directed to a designated isolation hotel at their own expense and will face fines.”

Family and politicians react

Global News spoke to Saskia and Mike Deslauriers last week. The family voiced concerns about having to isolate in a hotel at their own expense despite previously being approved to travel in late June.

The province previously estimated the cost to be about $200 per day.

The chance of exemptions is being applauded by people trying to enter the province and opposition parties.

“We understand that this is an extreme situation that we’re all in and it wasn’t an issue with the quarantine that we had,” Mike Deslauriers said. “It was an issue of being forced to a hotel at our own expense with two dogs and three cats and two kids. … It just seemed very arbitrary.”

The couple, moving to Riverview, said they’ve spoken with their area MLA in New Brunswick who told them Public Health would contact them Tuesday.

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They said they’re hopeful they can isolate at their new home, but don’t know for sure.

“We’re still in limbo,” Saskia Deslauriers said.

Mike Deslauriers said the anticipated phone call would be “to discuss our isolation plans.”

“They would need some documentation, obviously, that we have a house purchased, that we’ve got plans to get food in place and some other requirements, which is fine,” he said.

Read more: COVID-19: New Brunswick truckers ‘blindsided’ by new isolation requirements, association says

Interim Liberal leader Roger Melanson and Green Party leader David Coon both took to Twitter Saturday to applaud the decision.

Melanson called the update “great news.”

In an interview Sunday, Coon told Global News he learned of the update by way of the province’s press release.

“I was very excited because it was going to open up some real possibilities for people who can’t be served well in a hotel because of their particular circumstances,” he said. “The circumstances for individuals and families are as varied as there are people on the planet.”

Coon said he’s heard from some people “who were able to navigate the new system” and get approved to isolate at a stand-alone residence.

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“They’re very excited by the ability to do that now,” he said.

Everybody who reached out to him wanted to abide by the rules, he said, but “it was just so difficult in the last week to figure out exactly what they were supposed to do.”

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