March 22, 2021 — Covid has caused so many terrible tragedies. One that is not so serious, but nevertheless painful, has been the effect on the many snowbirds who were not able to come south this winter. That includes many people from the U.S., and especially the almost 1 million Canadians who normally migrate south to places like Arizona, Florida, or Mexico for some of the winter months. It also affects the U.S. economy, as snowbirds are important contributors to warm weather economies.
Fly Yes, Drive No
Canadian citizens can fly to the U.S., if they have a negative Covid-19 viral test within three days of their departure, or documentation that they have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 90 days. Land crossings, however, are banned for non-essential travel. “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature, which would cover snowbirds. Additionally, some states require or recommend people coming in from other states or countries to quarantine for up to two weeks. Since many Canadians travel either in motor homes or RVs, the non-essential restriction meant they didn’t go south this year. Others who like to drive south so they can take more of their belongings with them, stayed home too (although it is possible to fly to the U.S. and have your car shipped separately).
Still more people were probably very concerned with the high rates of Covid-19 infections in the U.S., and decided to tough it out up north, rather than risk catching the disease. As of March 22 Canada, whose population is 11% of the U.S., reported just under 23,000 deaths from Covid, compared to 542,000 in the U.S. (a comparable number of cases would have been about 56,000). Concerns about health coverage also discouraged Canadians, who, if they caught Covid in the U.S. would usually be uninsured.
Miami in Québec?
At Domaine de Florida, a retirement community north of Québec City, you might think you have arrived at a Florida resort. In the pool area there is a tiki bar, straw covered umbrellas, and plastic palm trees. In summer plentiful golf carts drive the 520 residents down Miami or Cocoa Avenue to various amenities like beach volleyball. Every fall the “leaves” on the palm trees are removed and then re-attached later to simulate the arrival of spring. Unfortunately, this winter its many snowbird residents are more likely to suffer from frostbite than sunburns.
The developer André Bouchard started this Florida-themed community about 10 years ago after noticing how many people from Québec go to Florida as snowbirds and have a great attachment to the Sunshine State. Although about half of Domaine residents normally would be in Florida at this time of year, most of them have remained in Canada. Of those that have gone south, many are using the experience to get vaccinated, which gets mixed reviews with Florida residents. For more about this Domaine de Florida see the New York Times: Canadian Snowbirds Tough Out the Winter in a Mythical Miami.
Comments? Are you a Canadian who is a usually a snowbird? Or someone from up north? Did you go south this year, or did you stay put? We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.