A negative review on TripAdvisor set off concern in Hay River about the movements of an apparent American traveller through the community in the past week.
The review, left by a man identifying himself as Troy K, described the town’s Ptarmigan Inn as “terrible” because staff had intervened to stop him dining in the hotel restaurant.
“I was told I wasn’t allowed because I came in from the USA, that I must self-quarantine, eat in my room,” Troy wrote.
“I protested. I am not sick, I told hotel management. I came up through Saskatchewan then Alberta and never had a problem getting something to eat at a restaurant in those provinces.”
In capital letters, he added: “I will never come back to a hotel that discriminates against customers.”
Ptarmigan Inn manager Terry Rowe confirmed the details of the incident to Cabin Radio. Rowe has since responded to Troy on TripAdvisor.
Mike Westwick, a spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer, said the man was legitimately in the Northwest Territories driving a truck delivering vehicles to a dealership. In that respect, he qualified as a supply truck driver and held an exemption to drive within the territory.
The driver works for a Wisconsin-based company, Westwick said.
Troy appears not to have understood the restrictions under which supply truck drivers must operate while in the NWT. Those restrictions differ from measures in place in provinces like Saskatchewan and Alberta.
For example, supply-chain workers in the NWT are directed to self-isolate while not on-shift if they remain in the territory overnight. That means not attending any restaurants.
“All companies are responsible to ensure that their contractors and employees follow all public health measures while they are in the territory,” Westwick said by email. “At our border checkpoints, they are handed social distancing protocols for supply-chain workers.
“They would also be provided direction to self-isolate while not on-shift should they need to stay the night – which we have been very clear about all along for this particular class of worker.
“We will continue to follow up with companies involved to make it clear this is not acceptable – and that they need to consider that each province and territory have their own rules based on their own public health situations.”
‘You’ll always be five stars’
Rowe, the hotel manager, described the altercation with Troy as an isolated incident.
“We’ve dealt with the company that brought him here and contacted 8-1-1 [the number for Protect NWT, the territorial agency tasked with enforcing public health orders] when he came here. We have truck drivers that stay here, mostly who we trust and have done a lot of business with,” Rowe told Cabin Radio on Friday.
“These people were driving for a new company. They were only here for one night. When they went to use the restaurant, our staff member screened them and told them they could not come in here. He made a pretty big deal about it. That’s when 8-1-1 was called.”
Westwick said the NWT government was not able to track down Troy before he left the territory, but did “follow up with the company receiving the goods that were delivered.”
He added: “To the folks at the Ptarmigan Inn, you’ll always be five stars in our books. Thank you for being all over the rules at your facility.”
Troy could not be reached for comment.
Several people have since added positive TripAdvisor reviews for the Ptarmigan Inn.
One reads: “Thank you for taking care of the health and safety of NWT residents during this pandemic by following the letter of the law – even in the face of utter ignorance, self-entitlement, and criticism.”