A South Surrey couple returning home from the U.S. say they were stopped at the Douglas Port of Entry and told to quarantine, despite providing proof that they both recently tested negative for COVID-19 and were both fully vaccinated.
According to the Canadian federal government, it’s required for people entering Canada to provide their vaccination status and a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours upon arriving at the border.
Michael Douet, 76, and his wife provided the required information, however, they did not do so through the mandatory ArriveCAN smartphone application.
The requirement to use the ArriveCAN application is unfair for people, particularly seniors, who don’t own a smartphone or don’t have the access or ability to use a computer, Douet said.
Prior to travelling to Birch Bay Village earlier this month to winterize their vacation home, Douet and his wife requested documents from White Rock Health Centre confirming their vaccination status, which was stamped by the clinic.
While in the U.S. and planning their return home, the couple visited the Bellingham Airport and paid $270 USD for COVID-19 tests. They had staff email the results to their daughter in Canada, who then forwarded the document to the Douets’ Birch Bay Village neighbour. Their neighbour printed the negative test results and passed them to Douet prior to their drive to the Douglas Port of Entry.
“We presented that to the border guard, he was not the friendly type,” Douet said. “We go in and they said ‘Sorry, you have to use the ArriveCAN app.’ But I said, here it is, in black and white. We’ve been vaccinated and here’s our test results that we had done less than 48 hours.”
Still, Douet said, the CBSA official refused to accept their documents as authentic.
The border guard told them they are to quarantine and take an on-site self-administered Canadian Red Cross COVID-19 test.
“We said we’re not tech savvy, we don’t know anything about the app and all of this other stuff, we just don’t. And I’m not about to buy an iPhone because I’ve got better things to do with my life,” Douet said.
Douet said since the couple “did everything by the book,” they are refusing to quarantine.
“Before all of this high-tech stuff came into play – people with phones stuck to their hands for the rest of their lives – what did we do? Everything was on paper.”
“How did we ever survive? Good grief.”
Douet said the experience was “infuriating.”
“What about people that aren’t computer savvy or tech savvy and don’t have iPhones?”
According to the federal government, people who do not have a smartphone must use the ArriveCAN browser version of the application. Travellers can sign in from any computing device, “like those found in Internet cafes or libraries.”
The government says the person should then print the receipt after they completed the ArriveCAN steps, and show that receipt to the border guards.
“The government is being unfair here,” Douet said. “To tell you to go to a library, if you don’t know how to use (a computer), what good is that going to do? Oh, there’s a computer, but I don’t know how to use it.”