Canada urges snowbirds to stay home this winter

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country is “not there yet” when asked whether a new national lockdown would be imposed. Photo: Canadian Press via AP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians not to travel abroad this winter as the country’s largest city entered a 28-day lockdown.

Trudeau specifically addressed Canadian “snowbirds,” many of whom travel to the United States and Mexico to escape the frigid north.

He pointed out that hospital capacity, especially in the southern US, was stretched.

“People are safest when they stay home in Canada,” he said.

Flights to Cancun and other Mexico destinations continue, however.

About 7,000 foreigners, largely Canadians, unpack their bags in homes on Yucatan’s Gulf Coast each winter, local government officials have estimated.

Their absence would leave a big void in Yucatan’s expat community. It could also have snowbirds enduring not only harsh weather but possibly also lockdown laws.

Starting Monday, residents in Toronto and the nearby Peel Region in Ontario will be required to comply with new pandemic safety ordinances, CNN reported.

Businesses and restaurants will not be allowed to hold indoor gatherings, and outdoor crowds are limited to no more than 10 people to a group.

Indoor social gatherings in homes with guests from different households will also be banned, according to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

“We cannot afford a provincewide lockdown, so we are taking preventative action today by moving Toronto and Peel into lockdown-level restrictions,” said Ford. “We need to take decisive action to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

More than 1,400 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Ontario on Friday, putting the province’s total number of infections since the start of the pandemic at 100,000.

Toronto, the largest city in the province which is home to more than 2.9 million people, broke its record earlier this week and recorded several hundred daily cases this week.

“With the numbers rising rapidly in certain regions, we have to make the tough but necessary decisions now to protect our hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and every person in this province,” Ford said.

When asked whether the entire nation would enter a lockdown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday, “Canada is not there yet.”

Earlier in the week, a ban on non-essential land travel was imposed on Canadians, prohibiting residents from driving across the border to the United States. Restrictions were first implemented in March and have been renewed monthly ever since. Leisure travelers will need to wait through Oct. 21 at the earliest for permission to drive south.

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