Saskatoon snowbird contemplates coming home early because of new travel restrictions

·2 min read

New travel restrictions have many snowbirds rethinking when they plan to come home.

"I've got mixed feelings, particularly coming back to Saskatchewan, where things are not very good," said Lynda Holland, who has been in Mexico since mid-November.

"You know, the protocols are better here [where masks are mandatory when you step outside], so I'm pretty concerned about going back into that hot mess."

Holland, who is from Saskatoon, had planned on staying in Huatulco, on Mexico's Pacific coast, all winter.

"Here [in Mexico] I'm warm and the sun is shining at relative freedom. I've got a pool. I'm teaching yoga. I've got five students. So life is pretty darn good here," Holland said.

But with Canada's main airlines cancelling service to the Caribbean and Mexico, and travellers returning home having to undergo mandatory testing and a $2,000 hotel quarantine, Holland is coming home at the end of the month.

"My reasons for returning are just because I'm thinking that there will be more severe restrictions down the pike."

Last year, Holland had to stay an extra seven weeks before she could come home.

"One cancelled flight after another, you know, it's kind of crazy-making.... It's not my first choice [to return to Saskatchewan], but I think it's the prudent thing to do under the circumstances."

Lynda Holland
Lynda Holland

Holland said she understands they were warned against unnecessary travel and the chance of further restrictions when she travelled in November.

"I think I'm fine with that," Holland said, but added some of the new quarantine protocols don't make sense to her.

"It does seem a little illogical to make me get a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test here for $160 Canadian three days before I leave.

"And then when I get to Canada, I will have to have another PCR test, apparently."

Then there is the mandatory hotel quarantine.

"The fact that instead of more or less directly flying back to my own apartment in Saskatoon, I will be in transport to a hotel with a bunch of people and I'll be in a hotel with a bunch of people, even though, you know, we won't see each other, I guess. I just think there are better solutions to this whole thing."

Holland thinks the new restrictions are to discourage Canadians from travelling during school breaks.

"I think what's going on is that the government is trying to send a message, do not go anywhere for March break. And we know that unless drastic measures are taken, people will go."

The Canadian Snowbird Association is currently asking Ottawa to exempt its members from mandatory hotel quarantine.

That association represents about one million snowbirds — and it says Canadians who winter down south can safely quarantine at home.