Snowbirds debate winter plans as temperatures drop and COVID-19 cases rise
TORONTO -- As temperatures begin to cool down in Canada, some snowbirds are considering toughing out the winter months north of the border, while others hope border restrictions ease so they can make the trip south.
Jack Deneboom is among the estimated 350,000 Canadians who spend between three and six months in Florida. He and his wife are still unsure if they will try to head to their winter home in Naples, Fla. this winter.
"Too many people are not taking it seriously and down there we see a very politicized situation,” he told CTV News.
On Monday, the state of Florida reported 1,701 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing their overall total to 685,439 cases since the pandemic began. Canada reported 1,308 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, hitting a total of 145,418 confirmed cases of the virus.
While the Canada-U.S. border is closed to non-essential travel until Oct. 21 and may be extended, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Canadian air passengers can still enter the country, provided they haven’t visited Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the U.K. or countries in the Schengen Area in the 14 days prior.
Depending on the state, Canadians entering the U.S. may have to self-isolate upon arrival.
Joanne Atherton faces a similar decision. She spends her summers at a gated RV resort in Peterborough County, Ont. but drives down to Northport, Fla. every winter.
Atherton said she isn’t comfortable taking a flight, meaning she may have to stay with family members this year if the border isn’t opened sometime soon.
"I don't think I’m COVID crazy,” she said. “I’m cautious.”
COMPANIES NOW PROVIDE COVID-19 INSURANCE
Due to the growing demand for international travel, several insurance companies have begun offering COVID-19 medical coverage as part of their travel insurance.
Medipac, a service with ties to the Canadian Snowbirds Association, offers four months of coverage for less than $900, depending on the customer's age and general health.
"There was a large outcry from Canadian snowbirds at the beginning of this travel season, asking if there was going to be coverage for COVID-19 related illness,” said Christopher Davidge, Medipac vice president of sales and marketing.
Manulife announced a similar service last week, designed to provide medical coverage for COVID-19 infections and some coverage in the event a trip is cancelled or interrupted.
While the Canadian government continues to advise against all non-essential travel, there are several destinations Canadians can fly to with few, if any, restrictions, including Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and much of Europe.
Experts do point out, however, that many of the attractions may be limited or closed down as countries experience a second wave of cases.
Upon return from any international travel, Canadians must still self isolate for 14 days.