us military in newfoundland

U.S. military aren't going into quarantine when they come to Canada and here's why

American military members have touched down in Canada, and it seems they aren't expected to quarantine despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, a group of masked U.S. military personnel was spotted getting off a yellow school bus and hauling their bags into a St. John's Delta Hotel in Newfoundland.

Heather McKinnon, the hotel's general manager, says they were given the go-ahead by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to leave the hotel premises.

"They were told they were allowed to leave the hotel as long as they maintained social distancing," McKinnon told Freshdaily in a phone interview, adding that U.S. military has been boarding with them for years and they are "model guests" who "don't break rules."

She said they were given the federal Quarantine Act regulations, not provincial regulations, which state anyone entering Newfoundland must "have not travelled outside the Atlantic region within the last 14 days." 

Canadian travel restrictions require all those recently returning to Canada, who aren't presenting COVID-19 symptoms, to self-isolate for two weeks starting from the first day of arrival.

However, it seems some military personnel are exempt from this rule, save their spouses.

Freshdaily reached out to the CBSA but didn't immediately hear back. However, they told the CBC that some individuals are exempt from the mandatory provincial quarantine requirements if they meet an exception in the regulations for visiting forces.

Persons entering Canada "for the purposes of performing an essential job or function" are exempt from mandatory quarantine. This doesn't apply to anyone who has signs and symptoms of COVID-19, though.

They're still required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering, monitor their health and respect public health guidelines in the area.

St. John's residents took to Twitter on Monday night to share their own sightings of U.S. service members out and about. According to CBC, St. John's police weren't able to locate them after receiving numerous reports.

"Military and RCMP are not required to quartine [sic], although their spouses are," one person tweeted. "Military moving people all over the country without taking virus into account. Shameful."

U.S. Air Force transports, musician Bob Hallett tweeted, land in the area every day.

"I used to work security at the airport and they could do [what] they want," another person tweeted. "Rules don't apply."

At a recent news conference, Health Minister John Haggie mentioned looking into a report that American military members were seen at a local restaurant Monday night.

"My understanding is: They go, they isolate and if they stay for more than 14 days in isolation, then they are free to move around," Haggie said.

"My view is whatever the more stringent measures are, be it the federal Quarantine Act or the provincial one, whichever is the strictest should apply."

Meanwhile, U.S. military arriving in Japan are required to undergo a COVID-19 test prior to being released from their 14-day quarantine, the Japan Times says.

The policy change is in response to outbreaks at American bases in Okinawa, where 41 cases were reported on Friday alone.

Lead photo by

Delaware National Guard

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