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Newfoundland mayor among Florida snowbirds scrambling to get home early

Rex Matthews talks about his hopes for the new year.
Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews - Contributed
GRAND BANK, N.L. —

The mayor of Grand Bank was on his way home from Florida Tuesday as uncertainty grows around travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Rex Matthews was getting ready to catch a flight to Toronto from Tampa that would bring him back to Newfoundland tonight.

“There’s a big scramble on down this way for people trying to get on flights back to Canada, and a lot of people down our park where I live to, they’re leaving in droves in their vehicles, heading for the border,” Matthews told SaltWire Network.

“People just want to get back in their own country.”

Matthews said he has owned a home just outside Tampa for a number of years. Several other Burin Peninsula residents and Newfoundlanders vacation in the same area in the winter, he said.

Matthews, who said he was keeping in touch with town staff while away, was not planning to return until mid-April.

“Everyone’s cutting their vacation short,” Matthews said.

“There’s not many people that are going to stay the full amount of what their scheduled plans were. People are moving out very, very rapidly, and it’s in their best interests that they do so because every day there’s more restrictions and more challenges that they have to go through.”

Matthews said he would be following the guidelines to self-isolate for 14 days upon his return to the province.

“It’s having a big impact, not only people, I guess, but all the businesses, as well. It’s a pretty complex issue, there’s no doubt about that, and a very serious issue.”

paul.herridge@southerngazette.ca

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