It’s summer, right? Time for a roller coaster ride! If you have followed the Canadian Border Saga, you don’t need one. All our staff and guests have been on a dizzying ride for the past fifteen months. We are all exhausted, but the ride continues.
In our June update, we reported that the government had finally settled on the key metric for opening the border. Whee! We’re at the top. Then we found out that the number would be 75% of the adult population fully vaccinated. Damn. We’re at the bottom since Canada was at only 4% fully vaccinated at that time: an open border seemed remote. Now a month later Canada is 22% fully vaccinated and adding between 1 and 2% a day to that total. With 76% of their over-12 population having had one dose of the two dose vaccines, getting to 75% fully vaccinated is getting more realistic. Back near the top of the ride? Close, but no cigar. While the progress north of the border has been remarkable, especially considering the very slow start, it’s not good enough for us to confidently project that we can open Scott Lake Lodge on the previously announced July 28th date.
SADLY, WE ARE NOW CANCELLING OUR WEEKS 11 AND 12, COVERING THE DATES OF JULY 28 THROUGH AUGUST 7. FOR THESE TWO GROUPS WE HAVE SIMPLY RUN OUT OF TIME TO MAKE NEEDED PREPARATIONS. ALL CUSTOMERS IN THOSE TWO GROUPS WILL BE GETTING A PHONE CALL THIS WEEK TO DISCUSS THEIR OPTIONS.
But there are still 40 days until the Week 13 group could arrive. At 1.5% fully vaccinated rate per day, Canada could reach their magic number in time for an early August lodge opening. Could. Everything else would have to run perfectly: a Covid passport or something similar, increased staffing at border crossings, etc. We know we can be ready, even though it will be quite an effort to ramp up on short notice. Many Saskatchewan lodges have already thrown in the towel for the 2021 season, but we will hang onto ours for a bit longer.
There have been encouraging signs. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been back peddling like Michael Jackson doing his famous Moonwalk over the past few days, saying easing of the border is “weeks not months away”. It looks like he’s trying to signal things could move quickly. Quickly enough? We don’t know, but we can hope and plan. It is very unfortunate that the Canadian government just can’t seem to reach clarity on this situation, but we have to deal with the information we have, as vague and incomplete as it is, and make the best decisions for our customers.
So Here's The Plan
We will do another update on July 12. If there is a “green light” which we define as an open border without the requirement of a new covid prc test at the border (which would delay travelers for an unknown period) or any quarantine requirements, we’re in business for August 7.
If there isn’t, we will cancel weeks 13 and 14 (August 7-17). Our final update would then be July 26 when we will either announce our opening day of August 17 (the start day for week 15) or cancel the remainder of the season.
Both of those timelines allow customers nearly a month to secure commercial plane tickets and arrange their lives. We do not recommend getting those commercial tickets yet if you don’t have them. The arrival times for flights from Calgary and Toronto to Saskatoon have been fluid. To keep safe float flying, we will need to keep our charter flight from Saskatoon to Stony Rapids at the 3:30 PM time. As most of our guests already do, you may need to arrive in Saskatoon the day before our charter flight.
This is the best we can do under the circumstances. If Trudeau waves his magic wand and opens with border with only a requirement of proof of vaccination (please note that we are reasonably assuming a hard copy or digital proof will be required—bring both if we get to that point), we will be on the phone 18 hours a day to contact everyone booked for August 7th forward. That’s a Hail Mary pass completion, but in this crazy era anything is possible. We’ll keep watching and waiting.