If vacation trips aren't banned, Legault wants those returning to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense

Premier François Legault says if the federal government won't ban non-essential flights then it should force those returning home from vacation to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, for two weeks.

Quebec premier says he's concerned March break will lead to another surge in cases

Passengers make their way through Montreal's Trudeau Airport. Quebec's premier wants the federal government to block non-essential flights. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Premier François Legault says if the federal government doesn't want to ban non-essential flights then it should force those returning home from vacation to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, for two weeks.

At a news conference Thursday, Legault said cracking down on travel abroad will help reduce the possibility of bringing new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus back to the province from resorts where people congregate from all over the world.

The current system of checking up on people with automated calls simply isn't enough, he said, raising concern March break will lead to another surge in cases.

"Right now, the quarantine for these people is not a big enough guarantee for the protection of Quebecers," the premier said.

Legault said hotel quarantining worked in New Zealand and could be effective here. He said there is plenty of room in hotels, and that the RCMP or Quebec provincial police could help enforce the quarantine. 

The daily number of infections has been on the decline in Quebec for the past 10 days, though Legault said it's too early to lift restrictions, given that hospitalizations remain high, at just under 1,500.

Legault is scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later Thursday.

Earlier this week, Trudeau urged Canadians travelling for pleasure to cancel their plans but said there are limits to what Ottawa can do to stop them, given constitutional guarantees on the freedom of movement.

"Our measures have been very strong, but we're always open to strengthening them as necessary," Trudeau said, when asked if the government would consider a ban on international travel.

"We're always looking at various measures as they are effective elsewhere in the world."

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