Wear A Mask

I’m really not sure how to react to some of these stories. But fair warning. If you come to Canada, we take the whole mask thing very seriously.

This is what happens if you refuse to wear a mask when ordering a donut. For my American friends, yes, the language spoken is French but I don’t think you need much in the way of translation. The man tells the police officer that he has a right to order without wearing a mask. It doesn’t end all that well for him. Ironically, the third police officer throttling the man is not wearing his mandatory mask.

The above video might get taken down and if it does you can watch David’s take on the incident.

In Ontario, the outcome for not wearing a mask could be deadly. This senior wound up losing his life for not wearing a mask at a grocery store.

We are in a region where we have a mandatory mask requirement when in public indoor spaces. And we wear a mask when required.

We are pretty much staying put in our coach these days. Seems safer than wandering about the country.

Not a great time to go to a donut shop.

Not a great time to go shopping for groceries.

Not a great time to be travelling in a motorcoach in North America.

Reunited

Fifteen hundred dollars and two hundred and fifty pages of documentation. That is what it took for Canadian Stephen Barkey and American Cathy Kolsch to reunite in Canada.

I had posted their story here. Border officials forced them to separate at the Canada-U.S. border because, in life right now, the only important objective is to fight COVID-19.

Even when it makes no apparent sense.

Canada wants to stop the spread of COVID-19 and it restricts some foreigners from entering the country. Not all mind you. There are all sorts of travellers entering the country. How you get into Canada depends on the mode of transportation, the border you cross and the border official you encounter.

Stephen and Cathy are retired. Like us, they currently travel full-time in their RV. Unlike us, they live common law.

To enter Canada, this couple had to prove that they had lived together for at least a year with appropriate documentation.

Unable to satisfy their common law status with the Canadian border official, Cathy was denied entry into Canada. Stephen was not allowed to return with her. He had to remain in Canada with their home on wheels as the U.S. land border is closed to non-essential travel. She was made homeless at the border and had to return to California to stay with friends.

They consulted a Canadian immigration lawyer. He prepared an extensive set of documents to prove their common law relationship. Cathy took the two hundred and fifty pages of material with her to the border.

And this time?

The border official allowed her into the country.

She is now in quarantine in Canada for 14-days.

Is Canada a safer country for keeping cross-border couples separated?

In this CBC update on the story, another couple attempted to reunite. They were also told that they did not have the appropriate documentation and the American was denied entry. The American found a common law union document on the Canadian government’s website and downloaded a copy. He tried to cross the border a second time so that he and his partner could sign the document and get it verified.

The customs officer determined that his second attempt to cross Canada to verify his common law union was non-essential. And, not only was he denied entry a second time, he was barred from entering Canada for one year.

Meanwhile, sixty thousand people have entered Canada through Roxham Road, and, during the pandemic, when the land border is closed to couples attempting to reunite, asylum seekers continue to cross into the country through Roxham Road.

Such bizarre inconsistencies at the border. For example, Canadians can still cross the border to the U.S. but only if they fly.

Canadians want the border to the U.S. closed regardless of impact to family members and loved ones. COVID-19 is the ultimate death scare and most Canadians believe that we have to do all that we can to contain the virus until a vaccine arrives.

I don’t see the Canadian government reopening the border to the U.S. this year. Not with this level of public opinion.

RV Supershows

Cancelled. Billed as America’s largest RV show, the RV Supershow in Hershey, Pennsylvania will not be running this fall.

After careful consultation with the industry, the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) cancelled the 2020 Hershey America’s Largest RV Show, scheduled for September 16-20 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to be of concern, PRVCA worked to find ways to hold a show while protecting the health and safety of all attendees, exhibitors, speakers and staff. Unfortunately, the hurdles were too great to overcome based on the information we have right now. Mark your calendar for the 2021 Hershey America’s Largest RV Show, September 15-19, 2021.

The Florida RV Supershow, currently scheduled for January 13-17th, 2021, has yet to be cancelled. And perhaps it will go ahead. Really, at this point in time, it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen with large gatherings in 2021. The logistics around social distancing would be very challenging to implement in these RV Supershows. I wonder how many people would be prepared to attend if the Tampa show did go ahead?

People did flock to Walt Disney World when it reopened this past week-end. Even in the midst of a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida.

Park attendance was likely capped at 30 percent of capacity although no specific numbers were released by Disney. At least not any that I could find. The folks at Disney posted a fairly stern warning about what to expect at the parks including this helpful reminder:

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting Walt Disney World Resort, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. Help keep each other healthy.

Virtually all of the Newmar Kountry Klub rallies have been cancelled over the next three months.

I expect the border with the United States will continue to remain closed to non-essential land crossings for quite some time. From the Globe this morning:

The Canada-U.S. border will remain temporarily closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21 amid Canadians’ concerns about surging COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to sources.

Despite mounting pressure from some U.S. politicians in northern states and border communities to reopen the border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made clear Monday that he has serious concerns about a major spike in coronavirus infections in most of the American states.

“We recognize that the situation continues to be complex in the United States with regard to COVID-19. Every month we have been able to extend the border closures to all but essential goods services, and those discussions are ongoing with the United States right now as we are a week from the next deadline for closure,” he told reporters. “We are going to continue to keep Canadians safe and to keep our economy flowing.”

Remember this from Canada’s Health Minister when COVID-19 first started?

The risk is very low. Border closures don’t work. Masks are ineffective. So many missteps. I could go on but the important observation is that our government did not know how to keep the COVID-19 virus contained. They did not know how to keep Canadians safe and they did not keep the economy flowing through this global pandemic. As Garth writes on his blog:

By now you know the news. Red ink and guts everywhere in Ottawa. Harper’s $56 billion credit crisis deficit was just a warm up for Trudeau’s $343 billion pandemic hole. The last time the feds spent like this we were in World War 2. We’ve just seen the first credit downgrade in 25 years. And no other country in the world is facing a reversal of fiscal fortunes like ours – a 1,000% deficit increase over the forecast of a few months ago.

A third of the workforce has been idled. The jobless rate will (as this blog told you) still be 10% at Christmas and close to that level in 2021. Revenues have cratered by over $100 billion. The economy in 2020 will shrink almost 7%. In the Great Depression the decline was 10%.

Perhaps our government is better informed now. We’ll find out. But the cost. My goodness. The cost.

Terrifying

“It absolutely terrifies me to think of the prospect of any sort of easing of restrictions that could allow greater travel between Canada and the United States.” — Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases consultant and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

This map shows why it would be ‘terrifying’ to open Canada-U.S. border:

The caption underneath the chart:

This photo shows COVID-19 cases in Canada and the United States. The data on the map above is on a more localized level in the United States, which makes it appear more red, but there are an overwhelming number of cases south of the border compared to Canada. (Source: Johns Hopkins University).

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy went viral on social media a few months back and ultimately found himself on a Snopes fact check: Did an Infectious Disease Specialist Write ‘I Am Not Scared of COVID-19’?

And yes, he did.

This was part of his plea:

Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.

I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Now? He is absolutely terrified at the thought of easing border restrictions with the United States.

He seems to have embraced the fear along with many Canadians.

Canadians’ COVID-19 fears are rising again — and the U.S. might be to blame according to the CBC.

It’s clear that Canadians are watching the cautionary tale south of the border. Searches on Google Trends for “COVID” and “U.S.A.” peaked at the end of March in Canada, but had dropped off to less than half of that by the first week of June. Since then, however, web searches related to the pandemic in America have nearly doubled, while searches related to the pandemic in Canada have held steady.

Polls suggest Canadians are worried about the situation in the U.S. A Nanos Research survey for the Globe and Mail found that 81 per cent of Canadians polled want the border with the United States to stay closed for the “foreseeable future.”

Léger finds that 86 per cent of Canadians reject the idea of re-opening the border at the end of July, as is currently planned (although the border closures have been renewed and extended repeatedly in the past). Remarkably, 71 per cent of Canadians “strongly disagreed” with a re-opening of the border, suggesting a firmly held opinion.

In mid-May, Léger reported that 21 per cent of Canadians wanted the border to open by the end of June or earlier. Now, just 11 per cent agree with opening the border by the end of July.

With all of the fear of in Canada, I would be very surprised to see the border to the United States re-opening this year. It looks more and more likely that we will be grounded in Ontario for the winter.

On a happier note, the bed lift in our coach stopped working last night. The bed was stuck in the upright position. I worked on resolving the issue until close to 3 am and utterly failed to fix it. Lorraine was able to sleep sideways on what remained of the usable portion of the bed.

I slept on the floor.

Back to work on resolving that problem this morning.

I hate sleeping on floors.

That Makes Sense

When will the border reopen? We keep a careful watch on any new developments with respect to the “temporary” closure of the U.S./Canada land border.

What began as a 30-day temporary closure has now been extended three times. And I expect it will continue to be extended.

The rationale: limit the further spread of coronavirus. All non-essential travel between the two countries is limited. But not completely:

Many Canadians are unaware that, even though they’re currently barred from driving to the U.S. for leisure travel, they can still fly to the country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told CBC News that its travel restrictions apply only to Canadians trying to enter the U.S. at land border crossings, which includes travel by car, train, ferry and pleasure boats.

However, Canadian air passengers can still enter the country as long as they haven’t visited Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the U.K. or 26 European countries in the Schengen Area 14 days prior.

The United States welcomes Canadians travelling by air. Not by car, train, ferry and pleasure boats. I think we can safely assume that motorcoaches are also restricted.

From a local Toronto media report:

Much remains uncertain during COVID-19 for the many Canadians who hope to escape the frozen north this winter.

What happens if border restrictions don’t ease by fall?

What’s going on with travel insurance?

And what’s the COVID-19 situation in various southern climes?

“Those are the three key determinants,” says Stephen Fine, president of Snowbird Advisor, a one-stop source of support, advice and services to its thousands of snowbird members across Canada.

Despite the travel ban in place until July 21, Fine says, “We’re cautiously optimistic that there will be a season. There’s a strong demand among snowbirds to get away.”

We are still in limbo with respect to our plans for the fall. In less than four months, our site will close and we will have to move on to our next destination. Under different circumstances, we would begin to look forward to travelling south in our coach.

Now? So much uncertainty. Difficult to plan.

The Canadian government remains committed to restricting the mobility rights of its citizens in the face of a public health emergency.

And, if the COVID-19 numbers in the United States keep climbing, I am not optimistic about our chances of being south this winter.

Recent polling shows the vast majority of Canadians want to keep the border closed indefinitely. This poll found that 83 percent of Canadians want the border kept closed.

Here are the numbers out of Florida updated today:

And all of Canada: