On Monday, March 16, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated the Government of Canada’s official global travel advisory for all non-essential travel outside of Canada to be avoided, and appealed to Canadian travellers abroad to return home to limit the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
Well, what does that mean for tens of thousands of Canadian snowbirds? Many of whom are retired individuals, more vulnerable to upper respiratory diseases than other populations, who spend their winter months in the warmer Florida weather.
To put it simply: Not good.
As thousands of snowbirds were aiming to time their return home with the shift to a warm spring climate, no one truly anticipated the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease. In a news release from this past weekend, the Canadian Snowbirds Association confirmed that following the global travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada, several travel medical insurance providers notified their policyholders that their emergency medical coverage will no longer be valid in the days to come.
In most cases, the insurance providers have given policyholders 10 days to return home before their coverage ends as COVID-19 is no longer an unknown risk, but a “known” global pandemic. Meaning, that for most snowbirds, their emergency medical coverage could end as soon as March 23, 2020.
And while this may not seem as a major risk to some snowbirds, especially those in cities with few confirmed cases of COVID-19 or those with local medical insurance coverage, they are advised to return home nonetheless. As Trudeau stated on Monday, these “are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures.”
So, as snowbirds make preparations to return home this week, it is crucial that they review the following recommendations by the Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC):
- Upon arriving home, either by air, car or RV, all travellers must self-isolate for 14 days to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
- When in self-isolation, they must monitor their health for fever, cough and any difficulty in breathing. If experiencing any of these systems while in self-isolation, they must immediately inform their public health authority.
- If these symptoms develop before they are scheduled to return home, they are not permitted to board a flight home. It is advised that they do not board any form of public transportation and instead, seek medical attention.
- If experiencing symptoms while in transit, they must inform their flight attendant or the border services officer as they enter the country.
We understand that this is undoubtedly a very stressful and unsettling time for many Canadian snowbirds, so we’ll be closely monitoring this situation and will continue to share any updates from politicians and health officials.
We hope that all of our customers stay safe and informed through these difficult times.
Safe travels home, snowbirds!