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Saskatchewan snowbirds grounded due to COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan snowbirds grounded due to COVID-19 pandemic' Saskatchewan snowbirds grounded due to COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: Bill and Bav Loth head to warmer climates such as California and Mexico every year during the winter. Because of COVID-19 they have decided to stay put in Saskatchewan. – Dec 27, 2020

It’s a yearly tradition in the Loth household to travel to warmer pastures during the wintertime.

Palm Springs, California, and various locations in Mexico along the Gulf coast are particular favourites for Bill and Baverly.

The Warman, Sask., residents have been travelling out of the country since they retired in 2007. The pair enjoy golfing, hitting the beach and taking in the sights on top of the nice weather.

“We just been thoroughly enjoying going to (places) nice and warm,” Bav said. “We both enjoy the heat.”

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Bill and Bav in Cozumel, Mexico. Submitted by Bill Loth
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The beach in Progresso, Mexico. Submitted by Bill Loth
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Hiking in the mountains in Palm Springs, California. Submitted by Bill Loth

Normally, the pair would be in the heat under the sunshine for this time of year. They put a hold on their usual sunny escape to travel out east for their 50th wedding anniversary, but because of COVID-19, they’ve had to scrap those plans.

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“We were going to go to Niagara Falls and the Maritimes. But, unfortunately, the Maritimes were (shutdown) for travel.”

Read more: SHA signs 3rd-party COVID-19 testing partnership for travellers, businesses

Bav says it wasn’t a hard decision to postpone plans for this year because of the rapid spread of the virus worldwide, uncertain health-care situations in different places, and mandatory quarantining. It’s not worth having to worry about.

“It’s just too risky to go anywhere,” said Bav, “with us being the age that we are. It’s just better not to push it. It’s not the end of the world if we just stay home.”

Skyxe Saskatoon Airport vice president of business development and service quality CJ Dushinski says the airport did see a return of some foot traffic over the summer months, but that stalled in the fall, and said holiday season traffic has seen a significant drop compared to 2019.

“With this second wave we have declined again,” Dushinski said. “We are pretty much back to where we were at 80 to 85 per cent total lost in passenger traffic.”

Read more: Airport industry group calls for aid as pandemic lockdown chokes off revenue

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Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) clinical microbiologist Dr. Joseph Blondeau says it is wise for Canadians to stay put for the time being. If they do have to travel outside the country it’s important to know what the health regulations are in the country they are going to.

“You don’t want to get to a destination and find out maybe you have to go into a (14 day) quarantine there that’s not part of your plans,” Blondeau said.

Read more: Remote airport runway move could make northern Saskatchewan flight fares cheaper

The Loths decided to put their money and free time into some home renovations, including painting the garage and giving the downstairs a makeover. They also got to spend more time with the family and the grandkids, whenever it was possible.

“(There is) more time to shovel snow and snow-blow the snow,” said Bill.

The Loth’s say a lot of their friends also found themselves in the same situation, putting a hold on travel plans.

“They said ‘no, we are staying home, we are giving up one year of travel, we will give it up,'” Bill said. “As much as they love the sun.”

“Most of them are retired and the same age as us,” said Bav. “So many go away. We have tons of friends and relatives that take off right after Christmas.”

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Bill checking out possible travel destinations for 2021. Submitted by Bill Loth

Bill and Bav hope things will get to some sense of normal in 2021 so they can travel again. But, if that is not the case, they are more than happy to do more work on the house and shovel more snow in the winter, but most importantly, spending time with each other.

“It’s not so bad spending time with your husband,” Bav said. ‘We’ve been married 50 years. We are used to each other by now.”

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Click to play video: 'How COVID-19 has impacted holiday travel in 2020' How COVID-19 has impacted holiday travel in 2020
How COVID-19 has impacted holiday travel in 2020 – Dec 18, 2020

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