Snowbirds debate winter plans as temperatures drop and COVID-19 cases rise

TORONTO – As temperatures begin to cool in Canada, some snowbirds are considering holding out the winter months north of the border, while others are hoping that border restrictions will be relaxed so they can start their journey south.

Jack Deneboom is among the estimated 350,000 Canadians who spend between three and six months in Florida. He and his wife aren’t sure yet if they’ll try to drive to their winter home in Naples, Florida this winter.

“Too many people don’t take it seriously and we see a very politicized situation down there,” he told CTV News.

On Monday, the state of Florida reported 1,701 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total to 685,439 cases since the pandemic began. Canada reported 1,308 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total to 145,418 confirmed cases of the virus.

While the border between Canada and the United States is closed to non-essential travel until October 21 and may be extended, according to US Customs and Border Protection, Canadian passengers can still enter the country as long as they travel to Brazil, China, the Iran, Ireland, Great Britain or countries in the Schengen area in the 14 days before.

Depending on the state, Canadians entering the United States may need to self-isolate upon arrival.

Joanne Atherton faces a similar decision. She spends her summers at an RV resort in Peterborough County, Ontario. but goes to Northport, Florida every winter.

Atherton said she is uncomfortable taking a flight, which means she may have to stay with family members this year if the border doesn’t open soon.

“I don’t think I’m COVID crazy,” she said. “I am carefull.”


Due to the growing demand for international travel, several insurance companies have started offering COVID-19 health insurance 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 age and general health of the customer.

“At the start of this racing season, there was a great outcry from Canadian snowbirds asking if there would be coverage for COVID-19-related diseases,” said Christopher Davidge, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Medipac.

Manulife announced a similar service last week aimed at providing medical coverage for COVID-19 infections and some coverage in the event a trip is canceled or interrupted.

While the Canadian government continues to advise against all non-essential travel, there are several destinations Canadians can fly to with little or no restrictions, including Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and much of Europe.

However, experts point out that many of the attractions may be restricted or closed as countries see a second wave of cases.

Canadians are required to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from an international trip.

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