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Calgary-area RV park opens early for quarantining snowbirds

Calgary-area RV park opens early for quarantining snowbirds
WATCH: As thousands of snowbirds make their way back to Canada and into mandatory quarantine, the Bow Rivers Edge Campground near Calgary has opened early in an effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve. Adam MacVicar reports.

As thousands of Canadian travellers make their way back into the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Calgary-area RV park has opened its grounds for returning snowbirds entering a mandatory 14-day isolation.

The Bow Rivers Edge Campground near Cochrane, northwest of Calgary, typically opens for the season on April 1.

However, staff decided to open the park three weeks early to deal with the influx of returning travellers.

“We have made it very clear that they are subject to this mandatory 14 days,” campground manager Jay Stephenson said.

“If they do require anything, they can simply just ask us via email or phone.”

READ MORE: Alberta Health reports 69 new COVID-19 cases, bringing provincial total to 1,250

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According to Stephenson, there are currently between 30 to 40 snowbirds in mandatory 14-day quarantine in the park, with a few new arrivals nearly every day.

Park staff have spaced out trailers being used for quarantine, and each trailer with a guest in quarantine is marked with a yellow piece of caution tape.

Stephenson said staff are also providing water to trailers that don’t have their water turned on yet as well as picking up groceries for people living there.

“The snowbirds are aware that they cannot use our bathroom or our laundry facilities or any of the campground facilities until their 14 days are up and they’re feeling well,” Stephenson said.

One quarantining snowbird’s countdown on the windshield of their RV at the Bow Rivers Edge Campground.
One quarantining snowbird’s countdown on the windshield of their RV at the Bow Rivers Edge Campground. Jerry Favero / Global News

Terry Taylor is almost finished his 14-day quarantine, and has spent its entirety in his trailer at the park.

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Taylor said he has spent every winter south of the border for the past six years, and he typically spends his summers at Bow Rivers Edge.

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It took Taylor four days to return to Canada on March 26 after a winter getaway in Arizona.

“My family, they started to get a little anxious that I was still a long way away from home,” Taylor said. “Last person I talked to was a border guard, wished him a good day and health and safety, and then I hammered on it.”

Taylor said the trailer was ready for him when he arrived at the park, and his family helped bring him groceries and supplies for his two-week stint in isolation.

“Its everybody’s responsibility to honour the self-isolation and the social distancing and whatnot,” Taylor said. “It’s the only way they’re going to beat this thing.”

READ MORE: ‘A plan is in place’: Alberta to begin enforcing social distancing

According to the province’s website, “hotels, motels, rental units and similar facilities, including student residences and accommodation sharing services” have been declared essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, returning snowbirds should not be using private campgrounds to isolate unless that is their primary residence, a provincial spokesperson said in an email to Global News.

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“They must follow the requirements laid out by the federal government and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, which includes mandatory isolation for 14 days upon re-entry to Canada,” government spokesperson John Muir said in a statement.

“This means avoiding any unnecessary stops on their way home and contact with others.”

According to the province, travellers in RVs should take precautions to avoid spreading any infection, including maintaining a two-metre distance from others.

It’s also recommended that travellers in RVs should pay at the pump if they’re filling up on gas, as well as drive-thru-only meals on their travels.

As for rest stops, the province said that rest areas or other places to park should be used.

As for people who may be asymptomatic travelling in an RV, the province recommends staying in their RV overnight as it is essentially their first place of isolation.

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“Private campgrounds are subject to the same restrictions as other businesses. For example, they cannot provide dine-in restaurant services, must protect visitors and workers against risk of transmission of infection and are subject to mass gathering restrictions,” the statement said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canada’s border communities adapt as COVID-19 crisis deepens

According to Stephenson, nobody at the park is exhibiting any symptoms and all are feeling well since they returned to the country.

Stephenson said his staff and the snowbirds are taking all precautions to ease concerns.

“That’s the best we could possibly do is listen to the experts and what they want us to do. As long as those protocols are being followed, then there [are] no worries,” Stephenson said.

“The ultimate turnout would be that everybody does their proper quarantine and then they can come outside the trailers and they’re feeling great.”