P.E.I. snowbirds hope to travel to U.S. regardless of closed land border

Lorna and Donald Burns remain optimistic that they will be coming to their Arizona home in the New Year.

The retired couple are snowbirds – they spend half of the year at their home in North Bedeque, PEI and the other half in Mesa, Arizona. Although the land borders between Canada and the United States will be closed to non-essential traffic until at least October 21, they hope to fly to Arizona in January.

“We’ve been there in our RV for five or six years and then actually bought a mobile home at this park last November,” said Lorna Burns.

“We plan to fly down and not go that long. Things are changing or have changed for us.”

The couple usually leaves the active shared flat aged 55 and over in October and returns in the spring. They postponed their departure date to early January because of the pandemic, but also said they will change their plans if necessary.

Air travel OK

Despite land border restrictions, Canadians could still fly to the US during the COVID-19 pandemic, although PEI’s Chief Public Health Office does not recommend it.

“Non-essential travel outside the Atlantic Bubble is still not recommended,” the office said in an email to CBC News.

“Islanders should think very carefully before traveling to areas outside of Canada that have high incidences with widespread community transmission.”

Lorna and Donald say they enjoyed the “snowbird lifestyle” in their retirement. (Submitted by Lorna Burns)

The US is still the hotspot for COVID-19 around the world, with over seven million reported cases and over 200,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Burns said they are following events south of the border as they prepare for a possible voyage.

“We’re currently watching out for border restrictions. California, Arizona, and Florida don’t have self-isolation requirements, but that could change and these states have had high incidence of COVID, so we’re looking out for these things,” Lorna said.

“If we had to isolate ourselves, it wouldn’t be a big deal.”

No more return flights

The Canadian federal government is also not currently recommending non-essential travel, but said the advice is not binding.

“If Canadians consider their travel essential and decide to travel despite this advice, they should be aware that other safety issues may affect them at their destination,” Global Affairs Canada said in an email to CBC.

“The Canadian government may have limited capacity to provide consular services.”

Hopefully the numbers, the numbers in Arizona … are better than before.– Lorna Burns

A Global Affairs spokesman said Canadians could struggle to get essential products and services – including medicines – overseas and could suddenly experience curfews, lockdowns and quarantines from their destination government.

The airlines can also suspend or reduce the number of flights without notice, making it difficult to return to Canada, “the email read. The Canadian government is not planning any additional return flights, as it did in the spring of the first pandemic.

Global Affairs also recommends that Canadian travelers contact their travel insurer and review the terms, restrictions, exclusions and requirements of their insurance policy before leaving the country.

Although they haven’t booked a flight to Arizona yet, the Burns have already got their travel insurance through the Canadian Snowbird Association.

Donald says the couple will have other plans than going to Arizona if necessary. (Submitted by Lorna Burns)

The association – which has more than 110,000 members – has said that it is currently difficult to estimate what percentage of its members will actually travel south this winter and that many are stuck on hold.

The Burns and many of their Canadian and American friends who also travel to Arizona consider themselves to be in this group.

“If we have to cancel for any reason, they’ll give us back most of our money. So we’ll just wait and see how things go in January,” Lorna said. “A lot can change.”

“Couldn’t be the same tomorrow”

Overall, Lorna believes that the information provided by governments is clear knowing where to look and takes the time to look for it.

“People have to stay hopeful and realize that this will end,” says Lorna. (Submitted by Lorna Burns)

“You have to take responsibility for yourself and look for answers and realize that what happens today and what you hear today may not be the same tomorrow. So it’s up to the individuals,” she said.

“Hopefully the numbers, the numbers in Arizona in the greater Phoenix area, are better than they were before, but we will evaluate them here as well.”

In the meantime, Lorna and Donald want to enjoy the Atlantic Bubble and travel to Nova Scotia in a few weeks.

“We hope that the situation will calm down and calm down by January. If not, we will have to make other plans,” said Donald Burns.

“Staying home, shoveling snow, enduring winter, not nearly as fun.”

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