Sask. snowbirds excited to head south when U.S. border reopens

Nov. 8 is the tentative date for the United States government to reopen its land and sea borders to non-essential fully vaccinated Canadian travellers. The border closed in March 2020.

It’s an announcement Canadian snowbird travellers Duane and Christa Hayunga have been waiting for in Prince Albert, Sask.

“We were expecting the border to open in the summer once Canada announced that they were opening their border to leisure travel for Americans,” said Hayunga.

Hayunga has booked a spot at an RV Park in Mesa, Arizona and says he’s excited to drive there with his truck and camper trailer.

On Friday, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it will accept proof of vaccination from international travellers who received mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines. It’ Air travel between the U.S. and Canada remained open during the pandemic.

Hayunga says they decided in the summer to update their COVID-19 vaccines to the brands approved in the U.S.

“We were watching that closely, my wife was a mixed dose vaccine person. I had AstraZeneca so we already each had our third shot. I don’t need to get the fourth it looks like, so I won’t be doing that,” said Hayunga.

He’s also checked with his insurance agent and says he’s got coverage for COVID-19 illness.

Canada opened its land border to U.S. citizens Aug. 9. Air travel between the U.S. and Canada remained open during the pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada can't afford to take any chances when it comes to COVID-19, so measures at the border requiring travellers to show a negative test result before re-entering the country will remain in place.

Conservative Member of Parliament for Prince Albert Randy Hoback is among a group of MPs working to reopen the border. He’s pleased the U.S. has move to open the vehicle traffic, saying Canada and the U.S. will continue to refine their policies.

“The testing requirement, we need to take a look at our processes and see if they’re actually redundant or needed, so there’s some things that need to be addressed as the date to opening comes closer,” said Hoback.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Vice-president of products and founder of Goose Insurance, Pamela Kwiatkowski, recommends people carry travel insurance and read their policies to ensure it covers pre-existing conditions, emergency medical coverage and costs associated with COVID-19 illness.

“Our recommendation is to read the fine print,” Kwiatkowski said. “Covid is a risk, particularly for seniors so ensuring that your travel insurance plan has Covid coverage is really important.”

She says provincial health care plans don’t apply outside your province of residence, even in neighbouring provinces.

She say one day in the hospital in the U.S. can cost as much as $5,000 and travelers might want to consider insurance policies that include unexpected required quarantines.

“It’s not just the emergency medical coverage for Covid as well, what if you get Covid and you have to quarantine? Those additional meals and accommodations if you haven’t planned for that can become quite costly,” Kwiatkowski said.

Canadian air travellers still need to show a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding their flight and proof of vaccination on arrival in the U.S.