Quarantine under the sun? Manitoba snowbirds have tough decisions to make this winter

From cancelling flights to selling properties, Manitoba snowbirds are making some tough decisions this fall as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Roland Bazinet, who has been heading to Palm Spring, Calif., for the last 30 years, would typically be packing his bags around this time, but this year he’s staying put for now.

“Never experienced this in my life,” Bazinet said. “We always look forward to going down in November.”

Bazinet is instead hoping to head south in January.

He already has a flight booked but is ready to cancel if the coronavirus situation in and around Palm Springs gets worse.

“If things are about the same as here and we have to isolate here a little bit and wear our masks, I’d rather do it over there with 20 to 25 above as opposed to 30 below zero here,” Bazinet said.

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His gated community, which includes about 1,000 units, has only seen one positive coronavirus case, he was told by the general manager.

“Don’t forget, it’s a retirement community, so it’s all seniors and they’re very careful,” Bazinet said.

Read more: Canadian snowbirds flock west as winter looms, but space is at a premium

Stephen Fine, president of Snowbird Advisor, said some Canadian snowbirds have decided to leave the country regardless, while others have already written this winter off.

The majority of snowbirds, according to Fine, are playing it by ear.

“People are looking at a number of factors,” Fine said.

“What is the situation on the ground in their destination? What are flights like between Canada and the U.S. and other international destinations?”

Click to play video 'The Travel Lady: precautions for snowbirds heading south this winter amid COVID-19' The Travel Lady: precautions for snowbirds heading south this winter amid COVID-19

The Travel Lady: precautions for snowbirds heading south this winter amid COVID-19

Fine said insurance is another important factor for snowbirds to consider.

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“A lot of companies were not covering COVID until recently,” Fine said.

“The issue is the coverage offered by different providers varies, so if you’re going to be purchasing insurance you really need to take a look at the terms, conditions, limits, language of your policy to make sure that you really are covered for COVID.”

Read more: Canadian snowbirds’ plans to head south for winter derailed due to coronavirus

However, many people are selling their winter homes.

Tony Zarrillo, who purchased a property in ​Maricopa, Ariz., in 2009, decide to sell this summer as the coronavirus pandemic was keeping him away.

“You buy it, you have an intent on using it,” Zarrillo said.

“You still have all the expenses of owning a home down there, so having all the expenses and having no use didn’t make any sense.”

Instead, Zarillo would rather use that money to explore new destinations when travel restrictions are lifted.

​”It was great while it lasted but if we’re going to spend that kind of money … we can travel for a couple months every year.”

Although it was a tough decision to sell, Zarrillo said the appreciation on his home was a big factor.

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Read more: Canadian couple forced to quarantine at home after being denied entry at U.S. border

Arizona realtor Diane Olson said many of her Canadian clients are making the same decisions.

“It’s very, very busy,” Olson said.

The Arizona housing market is red hot, according to Olson, which is making it easier for Canadians stuck at home this winter to decide to sell.

“The foreign exchange, the appreciation on their home and the fact that they can’t come here is all coming into play.”

The Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential travel, however, Canadian snowbirds can still fly south of the border.

Anyone returning to Canada from the U.S. or elsewhere must quarantine for 14 days.

Click to play video 'Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ flocking west for the winter' Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ flocking west for the winter

Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ flocking west for the winter

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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