In anticipation of the winter journey season, the federal authorities has issued a web based alert to seniors, advising them to remain residence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. However the message could have little affect on snowbirds who’re decided to flee the Canadian winter.
“I do not like winter. I hate it. I hate it with a ardour,” mentioned Steve MacDonald, 77, of Oakville, Ont. He has already booked a Dec. three flight to Florida for himself and his spouse, to allow them to spend the winter at their rented rental in Key Largo.
“Down there, [I’ll] be swimming outdoors and taking in some solar, getting some vitamin D and low-cost rum.”
He’ll be in good firm. The Canadian Snowbird Affiliation estimates that round 30 per cent of its greater than 110,000 members will head to the US Sunbelt this winter — regardless of hovering COVID-19 circumstances within the nation and the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential visitors.
Snowbirds can nonetheless fly to the U.S. and ship their automobiles. However the Canadian authorities is asking seniors to suppose twice earlier than leaving the nation, as a result of their age makes them extra vulnerable to falling critically ailing from COVID-19.
“In case you are an older traveller, chances are you’ll be immunocompromised or have persistent medical situations, similar to weight problems, that put you in danger,” states the federal government in its on-line alert concentrating on seniors.
“By selecting to remain residence in Canada, you possibly can assist defend your self, your loved ones and people in danger … in our communities.”
International Affairs Canada posted the alert on its internet web page for “older travellers” on Oct. 1 — sooner or later after CBC Information revealed a narrative about Canadian snowbirds heading south regardless of the pandemic.
For the reason that begin of the pandemic in March, International Affairs has suggested all Canadians to keep away from non-essential journey overseas. It says that the federal government could have restricted capability to assist individuals who select to go away Canada after which encounter issues.
Snowbird MacDonald by no means noticed the federal government’s alert for travelling seniors, and when he realized about it from CBC Information this week, he wasn’t swayed.
He mentioned that he and his spouse are wholesome and plan to take all crucial precautions whereas in Florida, together with sticking to their gated group.
“We’re simply gonna maintain doing the identical factor that we do right here, like you do not exit with a bunch of individuals and social gathering and have folks over for dinner,” mentioned MacDonald. “I really feel as protected taking place there as I’m right here.”
He additionally mentioned that he has the added safety of COVID-19 medical insurance coverage, in case one thing does go unsuitable. Insurance coverage suppliers not too long ago reinstated the protection after suspending it for a number of months throughout the pandemic.
‘Bucking the percentages’
In September, journey insurance coverage dealer Martin Firestone advised CBC Information that lower than 10 per cent of his 1,000 snowbird purchasers have been heading south. However now, he mentioned, shut to at least one third are packing their baggage.
“They’re bucking the percentages. They’re mainly saying, ‘I’ll go down there, and I’ll be positive.'”
WATCH | Some Canadian snowbirds heading south regardless of pandemic:
Firestone mentioned that travelling overseas proper now does carry dangers, similar to hospitals at a U.S. vacation spot changing into overloaded with COVID-19 sufferers.
He believes the federal government ought to make seniors conscious of the dangers however says that a web based submit will not have a lot affect.
“It is on that web site that only a few seniors, I am certain, examine,” mentioned Firestone with Journey Safe in Toronto. “It ought to have been a marketing campaign that appeared in newsprint and media and magazines.”
CBC Information requested International Affairs if it was planning an advert marketing campaign; it did not reply.
Cannot be swayed?
Even snowbirds who study of the federal government’s recommendation should still select to disregard it, satisfied that the advantages of going south this winter outweigh the dangers.
Though CBC Information knowledgeable snowbird Sandy Munro of the posted alert for travelling seniors, he is nonetheless bent on going to his rental in Naples, Fla., in February. He mentioned he’d go sooner however has household commitments conserving in him in Canada for the following couple of months.
“I can solely take a lot of winter,” mentioned Munro, 69, of Aurora, Ont.
He argues he’ll really be safer in Florida, as a result of he suffers from a lung dysfunction, which worsens in chilly climate.
“So long as I am in my little gated group — being COVID-aware — then I feel my life expectancy can be longer by spending the winter down there,” he mentioned.
Nonetheless, Munro admits that if he did contract COVID-19, he’d in all probability wind up with a extreme case — on account of his lung situation.
However that also does not deter the snowbird who mentioned he’ll take his probabilities in order that he can get pleasure from a heat and energetic winter.
“I am 69. I nonetheless can do issues like golf, tennis, pickleball,” Munro mentioned. “I do not understand how lengthy I am gonna be capable to do this for, so I am gonna seize it.”