The Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) is calling on Ottawa to exempt fully vaccinated Canadian snowbirds who got their shots in the U.S. from hotel quarantines when they return home by air, and to recognize and register their vaccination status.
“Treating vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers in the same manner is not only counterproductive, it is not informed by the latest science,” said Karen Huestis, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association, which represents 115,000 Canadian travellers.
The organization cites both CDC statements about the low risk of fully vaccinated travellers transmitting the COVID virus, as well as the Canadian federal government’s own Ministry of Health expert advisory panel. It recommended cancelling the hotel quarantine program as it did not align with scientific evidence, and in addition, was being circumvented by land or by air arrivals accepting a fine instead.
According to the CSA, exemptions should be provided to returning Canadians who can prove their vaccination status, “through official means, such as a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”
Registering the “Vast Majority” of Snowbirds Who Got Vaccinated Can Help All of Canada
Jill Wykes, Editor of the publication Snowbird Advisor (not related to the CSA), told Open Jaw by email that about one million Canadians spend extended periods abroad each winter. “It is estimated that about a third of the usual number of Canadian snowbirds went to the U.S. this past winter, according to a survey in November by Snowbird Advisor. This would represent a significant number and it is safe to estimate that the vast majority of them managed to get fully vaccinated when they were there.”
She agrees with the call to exempt vaccinated returning snowbirds from hotel quarantines and other restrictions, “Yet the Canadian government has not, as yet, differentiated between fully vaccinated travellers and partially or non-vaccinated travellers. They have been forced to quarantine for 14 days besides being tested 3 times — and to pay for an expensive hotel quarantine for three of those days if they returned by air.
This is plainly ridiculous and a wasted of time and resources and money.”
Wykes agrees with the need to verify and record vaccination status, especially for those who got their shots outside of Canada.
“What is also a challenge for snowbirds is the fact that each province has been slow to provide a mechanism for them to register their vaccination record at home. Some provinces do have a process while others are “working on it”,” a process complicated enough that Snowbird Advisor has just published an article to help Canadian Snowbirds navigate the process.
Wykes points out that would help, not just the Snowbirds themselves, who will undoubtedly need official vaccination records for future travel, but also all Canadians.
She says recognizing and counting fully vaccinated Snowbirds will, “significantly boost the number of Canadians who are fully vaccinated which is a target tied to other restrictions being loosened.”