The Liberals are standing by their hotel quarantine program after a federal COVID-19 advisory panel recommended the government scrap it.

The recommendations came in the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel’s fourth report, which deals with land and air border measures.

“The current requirement for all air travellers to quarantine in government-authorized accommodations should be discontinued,” wrote the panel. 

“However, travellers subject to quarantine must provide a suitable quarantine plan for approval and then adhere to this plan. If the traveller does not have a suitable quarantine plan, they should be required to adhere to an alternative one (for example, in designated quarantine facilities).”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first implemented the mandatory hotel-quarantine requirement for travellers landing in Canada on February 22. Since then, the program has been riddled with issues including several cases of sexual assault, inadequate food quality and reports of poor security measures. 

In a statement released soon after the report’s publication, Health Minister Patty Hajdu wrote that current requirements including hotel quarantines “are working.” 

 “The Government of Canada will continue to monitor and review all available data and scientific evidence to inform future border and travel measures, and will be prudent in its approach, keeping the health and safety of Canadians top of mind. The Government of Canada will also consider the Panel’s recommendations to determine how testing and quarantine strategies should evolve to address vaccination status,” wrote Hajdu. 

As reported by True North in March, Hajdu admitted that the Liberal government had insufficient data to justify the use of mandatory hotel quarantines when compared to at-home quarantines.

Additionally, the panel also recommended a plan to safely lift border restrictions as Canada moves out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Currently, the US-Canada border closure has been extended until at least June 21, 2021, however, both the US and Canada have indicated that they are in talks to discuss a reopening plan as vaccinations continue to proceed in both countries.