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‘A Jail-like Environment’: Fully Vaccinated Mother Describes Calgary ‘Confidential Federal Quarantine Site’

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: December 7, 2021
Tiffany Gaura, a Canadian mother of two, described her experience at a Calgary Westin Hotel quarantine site as a "jail-like environment" complete with 24-hour lockdown
Tiffany Gaura, a fully vaccinated mother of two, speaks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the “jail-like environment” at the Westin Hotel, transformed into a “Confidential Federal Quarantine Site,” she and her daughters have been subjected to after returning to Canada from Cairo, Egypt. (Image: Facebook screenshot)

A Canadian woman returning home from Egypt chronicled the grueling experience she and her family have been subjected to at the hands of federal health authorities upon arrival, describing authoritarian treatment, “a jail-like environment,” and 24-hour lockdown at a mandatory quarantine facility located near the Calgary Airport. 

Tiffany Gaura first unleashed a storm on Dec. 1 on her Facebook account, which had not been previously updated since July 22, after the Government of Canada’s new travel measures targeting control of the Omicron Variant of SARS-CoV-2 were expanded to Egypt, a country Gaura says she was working in and was about to travel home from, on Nov. 30.

Omicron was first uncovered in Botswana in four fully vaccinated diplomats from an unknown country who tested positive on Nov. 11. Genetic sequencing of the testing material did not confirm the presence of a brand new variant until Nov. 24

In the post, Tiffany expressed her outrage that despite her fully vaccinated status, she would now be subject to:

  • Mandatory PCR test before departure;
  • Mandatory PCR test while en route from Egypt;
  • Mandatory PCR test upon arrival;
  • Mandatory hotel quarantine until arrival test results were received;
  • Mandatory 14 day home quarantine; and
  • Another PCR test on day 8 of home quarantine.

“All of this for fully vaccinated Canadians. [expletive] you Canada. I can’t change your rules, your archaic mentality or your penchant for unruly government intervention. But I can make sure I pay as little tax as humanly possibly [sic] and drastically curtail consumer spending in country [sic],” she said.

On Dec. 4, Gaura posted an update upon arrival, saying that she and her family were escorted by the Canadian Border Security Agency to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officials where they were interrogated for 15 minutes “about my history with Covid (none), my plans in Canada and my testing and vaccination.”

“They read me my rights and told me I was entitled to a lawyer. They told me the fine for breaking quarantine is up to $750,000. We had a dedicated escort throughout, ensuring we weren’t escaping.”

The family was under immediate and total government control from the time they landed, according to Gaura. Unable to stop for food or drink, the screening and interrogation process took approximately two hours and involved the administration of an additional PCR test.

“We were transported in a dedicated vehicle to the Westin Airport Hotel in Calgary. The Government of Canada as contracted [sic] the entire hotel as a ‘secure quarantine location’. The parking lot is blocked with No Trespassing signs. We were met by the Red Cross of Canada employees in HazMat suits. We were processed and taken to an isolation floor,” Tiffany stated.

Garua said the family has been under 24-hour lockdown and is unable to receive deliveries either of takeout food or goods, “We cannot leave our room. We cannot get deliveries or packages. We cannot consume anything from offsite. We only get the meals they send us (it’s now 6:30pm and we have not had anything to eat or drink since we landed at 3pm). They have no cups for water in the room. I requested some but to no avail.”

Videos included in the post showed Tiffany and her two daughters being escorted by workers in full hazmat-style PPE through a hotel hallway now carpeted with plastic. The floor outside of each room was taped off, with many white plastic containers littered throughout.

A second upload shows what appears to have previously been a lobby hallway that had since been converted into a plastic-covered corral chute with disinfectant canisters strewn about.

The post said that they were told results from their arrival PCR tests could take up to 72 hours to receive. Upon receipt of a negative test, the family must rely on the Red Cross to coordinate with the government on their behalf.

The family was told the Red Cross portion of the event could take an additional 48 hours.

In a third post on Dec. 5, Gaura uploaded a photo of a document from the Red Cross describing the Westin as a “Confidential Federal Quarantine Site.”

The experience was a sobering one for Gaura, “This is happening, right now, in Canada, two years into a pandemic to vaccinated individuals. I don’t have the words to express this well. I waver back and forth between rage, embarrassment and disbelief. This will change my life, I have no doubt.”

Gaura provided a Dec. 6 update titled “Canadian hotel quarantine day 3,” which stated, “We still have no PCR results, because apparently in Canada it takes 72 hours to get results in 2021. Or maybe they just want us to stay here longer.”

Picture of a clearly uncooked pizza provided to inmates of the Calgary Westin Hotel Confidential Federal Quarantine Site
Picture of a clearly uncooked pizza. Inmates at the Westin Hotel, now transformed into a “Confidential Federal Quarantine Site,” are not allowed to order delivery or receive packages under any circumstances. (Image: Facebook)

She complained of the food, which she said arrived cold, and included pictures of a box of hashbrowns, two pancakes, two sausages, and a clearly uncooked personal pizza. 

“No fruits or vegetables (aside from potatoes). No beverages are offered, so it’s tap water for the win. No wait, I did get some coffee filters and packaged creamer. It’s gross.”

According to her post, the room contains only one bed, so the family has to sleep together. She also took an accompanying video of a security guard stationed outside the room in the hallway.

In a final video update on Dec. 6, Gaura filmed an interview she participated in with CBC television, which does not appear on the broadcaster’s website, where Tiffany summarized the experience as, “Really isolation in a building that used to be a hotel.”

She also told CBC that the current hotel quarantine experience is quite different from what she had experienced in the earlier part of the pandemic, “We had exposure to hotel quarantine in the past, and it was a regular hotel. This is truly an isolation facility. People hear ‘hotel quarantine’ and think there’s room service, and daily cleaning, and pools.”

“You get a plastic box with one roll of toilet paper left outside your door each day. I mean…nobody provides you any type of services. There’s nobody you can call. The hotel has zero for food and beverages.” 

“There’s no hair dryers. This is not a hotel. Nobody is swimming in pools here.”

Gaura also took aim at what she felt was the fallacy of her experience if the government’s intention was truly to slow the spread of COVID-19, “To be quite frank, we would have encountered far fewer people if we’d gone directly to our home to quarantine than we encountered with this government protocol.”

She described her interrogation with PHAC as being “in a room with dozens of other people.”

“You encounter multiple people you wouldn’t normally otherwise encounter. You have an escort from the time you land to the time you’re put into this dedicated government people.”

“I struggle to see how this could contain, if we were COVID positive, which we aren’t, because we’ve been tested many times, how this could be useful in containing the virus when we could just go to a comfortable quarantine location at our home.”

Gaura also explained that in her past experiences with hotel quarantines, the family was allowed to spend at least a small amount of time outside—20 minutes three times each day—but under the Omicron protocols, they are instead being subjected to 24-hour lockdown.

Regarding the impact on her daughters, Gaura said, “They’re being held in a jail-like environment. It’s really tough for them, and its hard.”

Tiffany also said that she believed the federal government’s real motivation for mandatory isolation facilities was actually for the purpose of “trying strongly to dissuade travel and to punish people who want to leave the country and who do leave the country for various reasons, in our case, to work.”

“The message from the government is it’s [travel] is unnecessary.”

Gaura’s experience was very similar to that chronicled by former Rebel News reporter Keean Bexte in March. Everything from the state of the hotel to the condition of the rooms and the quality of the food were similar, but under less stringent security.

The most notable difference is Bexte was not only given time outside each day, but was able to up and leave before his stay was complete without consequence.