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'No one was too excited...coronavirus was here': Snowbirds cutting trips short
LONDON, ONT. -- For Canadian Snowbirds who are still on vacation, what does Canada's advisory to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country because of COVID-19 really mean?
Barb Campbell, who has a home in Florida, is getting ready for an 18-hour drive.
“We are in a small community in our own home and no one was too excited about the fact that this coronavirus was here,” Campbell says.
Campbell at first wasn’t too worried since no one she knew had contracted the virus.
But, “By [March] 7th the schools started to shut down, food was coming off the shelves. We'd rather be in Canada when the situation is this serious than staying here.”
Campbell is planning to drive across the border back into Canada on Thursday.
Another couple, Ken and Debbie DeHoog, cut their vacation in Florida a week short due to the fear of wait times at the border, and not knowing if they still had travellers' insurance.
“We were concerned about number one, can we get across the border; number two, if we can’t get across the border how long is our health care going to last. Because the insurance companies were telling us that our insurance may only be, I think it was 10 days since last Friday, and even some insurance companies it was only seven days.”
The DeHoogs decided to take their chances with the border rather than stay in Florida.
“When we got to the border they asked us how long we were gone for. He gave us a pamphlet which explained the disease or virus a bit. And also some of the precautions you have to do. He was the one who told us we had to self-quarantine for 14 days,” Ken says.
Jerry O’Brien has been in Florida since January. He was informed by his travellers' insurance via email that he should pack up his stuff and head back to Canada.
“We are booked into this community until the end of March, however our insurance coverage does not allow us to stay that long," O’Brien says.
“They have asked us to return to Canada. I don’t blame the companies at all…I think everyone is just making sure we are all on the same page as far as our personal safety and the safety of our families. We are good with it all and we are looking forward to coming home.”
In a press release issued Tuesday, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the not-for-profit Canadian Snowbird Association shared eight tips so that travellers can have a “smooth return” to the country this spring.
They’re urging Canadian Snowbirds to tell a CBSA officer if they have fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
The border agency is advising them to get checked if they develop these symptoms within 14 days of their return to Canada.