Many retired Canadians return to home soil in the spring after having spent the winter months down south.
George Daly considers himself a ‘snowbird’ and spends six months of the year in Nova Scotia.
However, this year he wasn’t sure if he’d have a place to go when he scrambled to get back across the Canadian border as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of non-essential travel.
“I’ve been wintering in Florida for the last 10 years but this time it was cut quite short,” Daly said.
During the first reports of COVID-19 in North America, Daly was still in the United States.
He said his game plan quickly began to change when he realized the pandemic was significantly impacting travel and border crossings.
“The news that we were getting in Florida was that it really wasn’t a big issue and that we shouldn’t get too excited about it, but then the pendulum kind of swung the other way and it became obvious that Canadian snowbirds need to consider getting back to Canada,” Daly said.
Wayside Campground in Glen Margaret, N.S., is Daly’s home for six months of the year.
But as a result of the pandemic, he wasn’t sure if their doors would be open at all.
That uncertainty left him and other snowbirds unsure of where they’d go after self-isolating for two-weeks upon their return.
“I don’t know what would happen. It would be terrible because you can’t take a motor home, or a large RV, and just park them on the side of the road,” he said.
Luckily, Nova Scotia’s government has opened private campgrounds to seasonal guests with fixed trailer sites.
That gives people like Daly a place to stay while following public health measures.
Wayside co-owner Deborah Green says she’s been able to green-light most of the campground with public health guidelines in place.
“It’s going to mean that we are going to be able to pay some bills and everyone is still going to have to follow the social distancing,” Green said.
Green says Wayside has over 100 campsites for tents but they aren’t allowed to permit short-stay guests at this time. While there’s no timeline in place for whether or not that will change, the provincial chief medical officer of health says campground discussions are very active within the department.
“I had a very good discussion this with a private campground association earlier this week. We’re working together on plans but they’ve indicated that they still need a couple weeks to be prepared, so we continue to work with them,” Dr. Robert Strang said.
Dr. Strang expects there to be more campground announcements in the near future.
Meanwhile, owners like Green are just grateful they’ve been able to retain most of their business through seasonal guests.
“The seasonals are our bread and butter and the tourists themselves that travel worldwide, they’re the icing on the cake,” she said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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