17 Nov Travel from Canada to Florida during COVID-19
Disclaimer: This post is by no means meant to encourage or influence you to travel from Canada to Florida during COVID-19, or anywhere else. This is merely a recount of my personal experience with flying from Canada to Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic and my opinions on the trip.
Borders are not entirely closed. But the way the media phrased the travel ban narrative made many think otherwise. You’re unable to drive across the border as land borders are closed. Airplanes will still take you to the US. Travel from Canada to Florida during COVID-19 is very much possible.
A trip from Canada to Florida during COVID-19—who would’ve thought? The trip is decided and booked the day before due to unforeseen circumstances with the house I purchased in Orlando, which we won’t touch on in this post. It’s better if I’m there in person instead of having people do tasks on my behalf, because, ya know, if you want something done right, better do it yourself.
From the news in Toronto, all I ever hear about are the inflated COVID-19 cases in Florida. Floridians uncaringly flock to beaches, and don’t care for social distancing. Apparently the Florida cases are sky high and the deaths are numerous. Therefore, opening Disney and Universal is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Now I think about it and roll my eyes. I’ve further settled in the mindset to never take the media too seriously.
Departure from YYZ
September 9, 2020
Toronto Pearson Airport is empty. The all too familiar terminal 1, which was once lively and bustling, now lay still with restaurants and service stores shuttered close. A snack shop, Relay, is where I purchase granola bars and water. My little sister and I fly with American Airlines. Non-stop flights from YYZ to MCO are ceased, so the typical two-hour flight turns into four hours, with a short stop-over in North Carolina.
Security check-in to the US is short. Other Canadians wait to board with me, but not many. My sister and I smoothly sail through TSA. It’s like any other time I’ve boarded a flight to the US. Before boarding, an American Airlines employee takes our temperature, we sign a document that attests we don’t have a temperature, a cough and the usual COVID-19 determination questions. We’re on the plane. The plane is small and of course, no social distancing. We are, however, required to wear masks.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
My eyes bug out at the vast difference between Pearson Airport and Charlotte Douglas (CLT). CLT roars with people, all stores are open and although people have some sort of facial covering, no one is social distanced. To be honest, it’s soothing to see a “normal” airport, but I do prefer the emptier Pearson because I always prefer a lack of people when I travel.
There’s a difference with the type of facial covers worn by Americans and Canadians. While I see more medical masks or traditional face masks in Toronto, people at CLT wear a sort of small infinite band-like accessory around there face which can be looped around the neck when not wearing it.
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
MCO is busy too. I’m not surprised at tourists flocking to Orlando since Disneyland and Universal announced their opening. Masks are mandatory here as well. There is no social distancing. There are stickers at the car rental line ups to spread people six-feet apart.
We pick up our rental and car and make it to the Airbnb for the night. I feel safe at an Airbnb and take the promises of the Airbnb host regarding sanitization and cleaning quite literally.
Orlando, Florida during COVID-19
Because of my house purchase, I have to interact with a plethora of people, from the builder, to the real estate agent to people at appliance and hardware stores. Despite the masks, no one social distances. I even walk into some stores and restaurants without a mask and no one cares. Well except Tapa Toro at Icon Park, where the hostess made us turn back at the entrance until we had a mask we could wear from the entrance to our table… I will never understand these COVID-19 protocols.
Never do I feel unsafe or that I can contract COVID-19. At no point do I witness sick people or people even with a cough. In Orlando, everyone is out and about, with their masks, just going about their day.
Visiting Universal’s Orlando during COVID-19
I imagined Orlando’s Universal would be emptier, but a pandemic really will not stop families, children and couples a visit to the happiest place on earth. Face mask protocols are in place and there are stickers on the ground that tell people where to stand so everyone is six-feet apart. Although, this doesn’t make sense to me as a line-up winds back and forth and even though a person is six-feet apart from the person in front and behind them, they are still beside others in close proximity.
Many theme park restaurants are closed. I’m not sure if this has to do with the pandemic. I enjoy all the rides and leave thrilled that I finally visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Other places to visit in Orlando
Universal CityWalk Orlando, Disney Springs and Icon Park are equally busy. There is no social distancing, however some do ensure to keep a safe distance from others. Restaurants like the Chocolate Emporium at CityWalk, which is delicious by the way, were trying to implement social distancing, but it really did meet any standard. At the Disney Store in Disney Springs, you may as well forget that there‘s a global pandemic. The concept of social distancing in stores or line-ups doesn’t exist in any of these places, but I don’t mind. Honestly, everything would appear normal if everyone wasn’t walking around with a mask on their face.
If you’ve read through this and were already considering travel from Canada to Florida during COVID-19, chances are you aren’t as bothered by the pandemic as others. Or you know there’s a pandemic and still want to live your best life. Or you think you’re invincible. In any case, from personal experience, I didn’t find the airport check-in experience, flying in an airplane and touring Orlando a scary experience. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bear in mind, if you go to Universal or Disneyland, you will be amongst huge crowds. Just like you, many others have decided to visit as well. But chances are, if you are willing to fly in a plane, packed like a sardine, this really won’t bother you anyway.