Orillia snowbirds Ric and Berni Vernon made their annual trip down south again this winter despite provincial and federal travel restrictions.
The Orillia couple has been travelling to Huatulco, Mexico each winter for the past seven years, and they weren’t going to let the COVID-19 pandemic get in their way of enjoying the warm weather again this year.
“We didn’t even consider not heading down there. People in Canada don’t know what the environment is like down there because all they hear is the media telling them how bad everything is, and it’s not bad,” Ric said.
“It’s bad in Canada, yeah, but it’s not bad down south through the States. They’ve done a wonderful job getting this under control.”
The Vernons left for Mexico via plane on Jan. 20 and returned to Canada on April 28. The return home was a little more challenging for the Vernons as they flew into Buffalo, and then crossed the border on foot before driving home.
“It’s kind of a loophole. We just went in the backdoor,” Ric said.
The Vernons were tested for COVID-19 four different times during their trip back home: once before leaving Mexico, once in Buffalo, once when they crossed the border, and then one final test when they were back home.
“We also had to do a video chat with a Health Canada nurse, so I think we are good,” Berni said.
“It’s overkill, and clearly they don’t trust their tests because we still have to quarantine.”
The Vernons opted to walk across the border because of the federal government's new regulations. Those rules require them to fly into Toronto and stay in a quarantine hotel, which would have cost between $2,000 and $3,000 per person.
“It’s almost like we are being punished. I know they don’t want us to travel, but they won’t close the airport, so instead, they’ve made it difficult for us to return,” Berni said.
“We were not going to be extorted by the Liberal government, paying all that money out of the kettle when it isn’t necessary,“ Ric added.
Despite restrictions on travel, Ric says he and his wife are being respectful of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Snowbirds are not the problem; we take precautions and conduct ourselves accordingly for it," he said.
"But this wasn’t a vacation. This is where we live in the wintertime, and I’ve spent millions of dollars in taxes and worked my ass off to get to retirement, and my retirement is not going to be corrupted by (Justin) Trudeau’s incompetence,” he said.
Ric describes his stay down south with his wife as wonderful, and a breath of fresh air compared to living in Canada amid the lockdown and stay-at-home orders.
“Mexico is wide open, there is no issue there. We came into Georgia and they were wonderful there, same as in Buffalo, life is normal,” he said.
“But when you come across the border there is this big black cloud over Canada and you can’t even breathe without the fear of being extorted all kinds of money or getting COVID. The fear-mongering here is unbelievable,” Ric says.
The Vernons plan on living down south again next winter, regardless of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Come Hell or high water, I will be down there again. The government’s incompetence is not going to affect my retirement, not a chance,” Ric said.
Bernie adds that she and her husband refuse to live in fear, especially during their retirement.
“All we hear is fear, fear, fear constantly…nowhere in the media do you see encouragement to build up your immune system, get vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and exercise,” she said.
“We constantly live in fear. It’s no wonder people are afraid to do anything.”