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Travel to Florida October 2021. Go or No go?

My son is getting married in Pensacola, Florida in October 2021. He is a Canadian, living and working in Philadelphia, marrying a lovely American gal. The wedding was rescheduled from October 2020. We (his entire Canadian family, all living in British Columbia) are all double vaxxed, and up until about a month ago were all planning on attending the event. Now, we aren't so sure, in light of the increasing case numbers and low vax rates in the area. I would love to hear others thoughts on this - particularly any Canadians that may be in a similar situation.

Posted by
4984 posts

Wow, that’s a good question, and I’d frankly lean towards not going at present. But things might improve by October, might. The wedding was already postponed once - what are the details around that, and is that situation resolved now? Is the wedding going to be self-contained, with few or no outsiders? Maybe it’s in a big venue, serviced by local Florida people. Then there’s just getting there, and being in Florida for as long as you remain.

Is Florida where the bride’s from - or her family’s located? Maybe it’s just their dream wedding destination. Is the wedding definitely happening this time, whether you’re there, or not? I suspect many other potential attendees are, understandably, questioning going, too.

Posted by
1297 posts

Since you're vaccinated, you'll likely be fine. Wear a mask as an extra precaution.

Posted by
339 posts

Thanks for your thoughts Cyn. The wedding is going ahead, with or without us. They aren't prepared to postpone again. The wedding is at a big resort, there will be locals serving, and possibly hundreds of visitors staying at the resort. When I last asked my son, we were the only ones expressing concern about the situation. We are also the only Canadians. All other guests are fully vaxxed Americans. It breaks my heart to even consider missing my own son's wedding!

Posted by
1292 posts

My neighbors went to Florida at the end of July. All 4 came home with Covid. The kids were not vaccinated. One parent was hospitalized.
I would be a bit concerned that a few attendees might become infected and transmit to others.
I had to miss my dear sister’s funeral. Watching via zoom helped a bit.
You have a tough decision.

Posted by
201 posts

I can sympathize on so many levels- including the stress on family relationships for what should be joyous reunions. Facing a very similar situation but sooner than you and cross country- it's possible and hopeful that by 6 weeks from now the #s will be trending down in FL, so you don't have to make this decision now.
Another question is if they're requiring proof of vaccination for guests? That was my "deal breaker" or I wouldn't be going. And will they require the servers to be masked? Also if their event is in a private part of the resort.
I hope it works out for you to be there! Congratulations, regardless.

Posted by
3218 posts

I’d keep my options open until that point when you must make a decision. Based on how figures from Spain have been going, my guess is cases will begin to decrease in the U.S. in a couple weeks. Not scientific, just observation, but the U.S. numbers (increase/decrease) tend to follow Spain, but a couple weeks later. My guess is you’ll be fine by October.

Posted by
3409 posts

My, what a difficult spot to be in. If this was for just a normal trip, I would say stay home. Who would go to Florida right now? But it is not a normal trip, it is a wedding. You must be quite torn.

I will say, that you can't expect that other people will follow health protocols. Many people (and not just in Florida) seem to think that Covid is "over" and have abandoned social distancing and mask wearing. Friends that have visited the south recently were quite shocked at the total disregard for accepted health practices.

You can set things up a bit to reduce risk by abandoning any idea being present in a receiving line, limiting contacts prior to and after the ceremony, and being consistent with your social distancing and mask wearing. This is very hard to do at such a key social event as a wedding.

I wish you and your son the very best moving forward.

Posted by
552 posts

Pensacola itself may not be too bad Covid-wise. It's the home of a U.S. Naval Airbase and over 70% of the U.S. Navy is vaccinated (remember the big outbreak they had on a ship?). I'm just guessing but the vaccine hesitancy which may exist in other parts of Florida may not be as entrenched in Pensacola. And I believe next month all U.S. military will be required to be vaccinated. You may want to keep an eye on the Escambia County, where Pensacola is located, Covid database, https://myescambia.com/covid-19-information-for-escambia-county. I think your greatest risk will be the very long plane(s) trip and the airports. Once within the wedding bubble with all guests vaccinated you will likely be fine. Obviously while in the resort public spaces you would take the usual precautions. Best wishes to you and your family.

Posted by
6717 posts

It sounds like a hard decision but I think regret would be even harder to swallow, and I mean the regret of unintended consequences stemming from a large gathering during the times we are in (and given Florida's eschewing of public health measures to slow down the spread). There is no way you can truly know or control who is vaccinated or who you come in contact with. With strangers, I would especially beware. If you are the only one that expressed concern, that in itself is a bit concerning and indicative of the lax attitudes toward what's going on.

Stay abreast of any changes in restrictions in the area, which may or may not affect the wedding venue:
https://www.wkrg.com/northwest-florida/pensacola-responds-to-rising-covid-cases-implements-new-restrictions-for-public-spaces-and-events/

Posted by
21202 posts

I would go. But invest in a number of the N95 masks. They are cheap. We just purchased a package of 25 for $8 from a store called, "Tuesday Morning." They supposedly give the most protection.

Posted by
339 posts

I greatly appreciate your thoughtful responses. At this point we are keeping options open. Biggest risk as I see it is picking up the virus and being unable to travel home until a negative test is in hand. Who knows how long that might be - several weeks? Quarantining in a hotel holds no appeal to me, even for my first visit to the Sunshine State! My current thought process is that if they had chosen to elope, we wouldn't be at the wedding anyway. Thank you for your well wishes and acknowledgement of this very difficult decision.

Posted by
12210 posts

Speaking as the mother of two adult sons (both happily married) and the wife of a physician, I was inclined to say you could go, as long as you and your accompanying family members are diligent about wearing N95 masks on the plane and anywhere indoors, and observe social distance rules (no hugging).

I say “was” inclined to say that, because the risk of fully-vaccinated people becoming seriously ill is (according to my husband) minimal. But I just saw that your major concern is testing positive and having to quarantine before returning home. There are no guarantees about that—-the delta variant is proving to be so highly contagious that infection is a possibility, even for the fully vaccinated. (They just are unlike to get sick).

If the looming threat of having to quarantine before returning home would spoil your fun, ask your son to set it up so you can “attend” the ceremony by Zoom. And then get busy planning a welcoming celebration for them when they are able to come to BC and visit you.

Posted by
339 posts

Lola, you have exactly captured my stress. We are having a family meeting via zoom this weekend to discuss these concerns and options. I'm going to float the balloon that we all gather together in Victoria wear our wedding duds, uncork the champagne and participate via live stream. Then at some point in the future we host a party here, inviting the brides family/close friends. Not 1 but 2 wedding celebrations!

Posted by
760 posts

Well obviously you are going to monitor the situation which could easily change a lot in the next 6 weeks (look how different things looked 6 weeks ago). But if things are still bad I would probably stay home. It's not only the risk of having to quarantine for who knows how long (at what expense) in Florida if you tested positive before your return - but there are cases of fully vaxxed people getting quite sick - it may be a tiny percentage, but if it happens to you it doesn't matter that it's a tiny percentage. There's a thread right now about a healthy 30 year old fully vaxxed woman who tested positive on her trip to France and ended up in the hospital.

Most weddings are videotaped these days (and even if they were not planning on that, they could). Have them come visit you immediately after the wedding and bring the video and you all watch it with them. Have a feast, get a wedding cake. Not quite as good as being there live, but maybe almost.

Posted by
159 posts

Go.

I was fully vaccinated in February, went to Orlando twice for a week, once in March (Mardi Gras at Universal Studios) and again in April (Disney World). Also went to Pensacola twice for a a week in March ("Spring Break") and in May (last trip before the brats get out for school, I tend to avoid vacationing when kids are out of school for summer break).

I was around hundreds of maskless people but it was all outdoors mostly. I have never had a covid test so I could have caught it and been asymptomatic.

Posted by
2495 posts

I wouldn't go there on a fun vacation right now...but you have a really good reason for going. Are you double vaxxed with one of the MRNA vaccines? Do you have any higher risk health issues? If you are vaxed with pfizer or moderna and are in ok health, I'd go. Assuming you can afford (time/money) to test and possibly quarantine when you get home. You don't want to spread COVID in your home area. But your risk of serious illness as a vaccinated person is pretty low and your son's wedding is something I assume you really value.

So I'd go, stay as short a time as possible, and take all the precautions I could (KN95 mask, avoiding crowds outside of the wedding, all that).

Posted by
760 posts

They wouldn't have to quarantine "when" they got home, they are from Canada, they would have to quarantine in the US until they tested negative in "order to get home".

Posted by
4874 posts

Of course you can go to Florida.
What is important is what you do once there. Is it a large wedding? If so, that would be your greatest concern.
While in Florida, you don't need to join crowds, especially those indoors. Choose restaurants that take COVID precautions.

Florida has 60% of the population with one dose and 50% fully vaccinated. This is almost identical to the total USA vaccination rate.

Ironically, the area of Florida with the most new cases is South Florida, which has a higher vaccination rate, but draws the most tourists.

Posted by
6717 posts

Florida has 60% of the population with one dose and 50% fully
vaccinated. This is almost identical to the total USA vaccination
rate.

What's more relevant are the vaccination rates in Escambia County, where Pensacola is and where the wedding is that the OP plans to attend. Those rates lag the rest of Florida and the country by a substantial amount!

As of today (8/14/21):
Only 38.5% fully vaccinated per the CDC (that's way lower than where I live, where it's 60.1%)
Only 47% partially vaccinated (where I live, it's 69.6%)
Source: https://escfl.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/36dbd781a0eb4afd8e8cce321d66d3ec

Also, find Escambia County in the below article (the numbers are not favorable compared to the state):
https://www.wfla.com/community/health/coronavirus/counties-with-the-highest-covid-19-vaccination-rate-in-florida/

Posted by
12210 posts

Kathleen, I think you have arrived at a solution that resolves your valid concerns and makes the best of a difficult situation, while respecting you son’s wish to go forward with the wedding in Florida. By dressing up and gathering with your BC relatives to join in the ceremony (albeit remotely), you will hopefully create a celebration you can look back on years from now, perhaps with a bit of bittersweet feeling, but mainly with fondness and joy rather than regret for missing out.

My best to you and your family.

Posted by
656 posts

Among the millions who have got the vaccines, apparently some small percent might have had a problem with coronavirus disease anyway. I will try to not be flippantly dismissive of your fear of having a problem with coronavirus-2019 disease.

If you are healthy, if you immune system works ok, and considering that you are vaccinated, chances of you having a severe problem in case you encounter the virus, are negligible. Analogies are not persuasive but Pensacolans working at hospitals and grocery stores may come into contact with as many people as you will at the wedding, every week or even every day. If most of those employees are able to continue working at their jobs without going nuts from fear of getting coronavirus-2019 disease, I guess you will be ok with going to the wedding.

Ask the wedding planners (your son and/or the employees of the event venue) if you can sit distanced from others and ask what safety protocols will be practiced.

Have you talked to your doctor about whether your immune system probably works ok? Do you have any major health problems?

Posted by
22 posts

I am a fully vaccinated Floridian and I could not imagine missing my son’s wedding over fears of Covid in Florida. You are vaccinated, which is all you or any of us can do to protect ourselves. Remember, Florida is the third largest state in the nation with over 21 million residents and millions of visitors. I’m not happy with the number of cases in my state, but there are tens of millions who are NOT infected, NOT hospitalized and NOT dying. The media focus is on the few who are sick. Don’t let that ruin your family moment.

Posted by
6717 posts

You are vaccinated, which is all you or any of us can do to protect
ourselves.

No, that's not all one can do. What happened to social distancing, wearing a mask, and staying away from hot spots with low vaccination rates and rising cases and hospitalizations? Those basic, layered public health measures haven't fallen out of vogue, although many Flordians, Texans and southerners seem to think so.

Posted by
2779 posts

Well, being vaccinated does prevent serious sickness, but it does NOT keep you from being infected and testing positive if you are exposed to the virus. That is Kathleen’s real concern, isn’t it?

There are no data on the total number of people who become infected after getting vaccinated and resume “normal” lives, because most of them will have no symptoms and no reason to get tested. But there are lots of examples from people who do get tested for some reason and do test positive. I have 2 friends in that situation—-they developed symptoms (loss of taste and smell, or sneezing and cold symptoms) days after going to church or a family celebration. They had to let everybody they were in contact with (including me) know. One of them said her mom was at the birthday party too and had no symptoms but got tested just in case. She was positive too. Fortunately she did not get sick, thanks to the vaccine.

Posted by
339 posts

Again, sincere thanks for all the responses. I am not worried about becoming seriously ill from Covid. I am double vaxxed with AstraZeneca, approved in Canada, but not in USA. My concern is contracting the virus, testing positive and being unable to return home until the disease runs its course. We are well informed of the situation in Escambia County.

I appreciate all the thoughts about n95 masks, staying away from people as best we can and other precautionary measures, and will continue to monitor the situation before making a final decision.

Posted by
3789 posts

As a fellow Canadian, I understand your concern. Our government is cautious as are most provincial public health departments.
Do you work? I just retired, but my employer stated that if we traveled while there was the continued warning for no non essential travel, we would not get paid for missed work days, and not be eligible for extended health benefits related for any illness picked up while away. That was a deal breaker for my travel. I haven't looked recently whether the warning is also for the US, but you may wish to do so.
You also need to factor in exposure on the planes as well as at the wedding.
It's a tough call. There are bound to be regrets if you don't go, but you also need to protect your health and employment, and the time and costs incurred if needing to quarantine.
How do you son and fiancé feel about it? If it would lead to resentment, then there are even more stress factors.
I wouldn't decide yet, but would want to check what all the ramifications are if there is a positive covid result.

Posted by
4984 posts

Kathleen, with your two doses of A-Z, your likelihood is 67% or better to not get sick. If you did go, and wound up testing positive, how about already get just planning on staying in the USA for a couple weeks after the wedding? Maybe holiday in Florida, maybe elsewhere. If you wind up with Covid-19 or a variant, you’ll have already set aside recovery time. If you, hopefully, stay well, you’ll have gotten in a vacation, along with attending your son’s ceremony.

Maybe the timing won’t work. Maybe you really don’t want to mingle with a crowd in Florida, even if just for the wedding. Your virtual attendance still sounds like a reasonable approach.

Posted by
25760 posts

Cyn, are you suggesting she use public transport to go somewhere else for a vacation after knowing that she is carrying (or worse) the virus? What about all those innocent people sharing the same space and same transportation facilities? Is that fair?

Posted by
4984 posts

I didn’t work out any of the details, but I’m suggesting one posible approach, which might or might not be a reasonable possibility for Kathleen, is that she could possibly just plan on a 2-week trip. In best-case scenario, she stays healthy, and doesn’t make anyone else sick, and comes home after 2 weeks, as planned.

Very worse-case scenario, she tests positive for the virus, and has to recover, wherever and however that implies, but it’s not like she was set up to be home sooner, anyway. The situation presented to her is already unfair on several levels, and in no way am I suggesting making it worse. Some approaches might make things a bit less stressful. If she were to decide to go to Fla., setting aside some time for either result would address the time aspect. That’s IF.

Kathleen, you’re considering many options. You’ll find the best one, overall.

Posted by
656 posts

There is a negligible chance you will have a severe problem if you catch the virus. Re-read the positive replies above. It is totally fine to call your son, and to call the staff of the event venue, and talk to them about their safety protocols, how far distanced from others you want to sit, and so on.

I am looking at taking a solo trip to Florida in December

Posted by
7592 posts

A vaccinated friend who lives in the Carolina mountains just got a so-called mild case. It's going to take months to regain his strength; he's still sleeping for hours and hours. The good news is that he wasn't hospitalized. The nurse said he probably would have died if he hadn't been vaccinated.
Don't be so sure it's always not a big deal, Mike.

Posted by
2790 posts

For most things, I wouldn't want to risk being quarantined and not being able to go home. Therefore, I don't know when I'll be able to go to Europe again. But for a once-in-a-lifetime event like this, I'd do what Frank said: go and wear N95 masks. I would also consider just attending the wedding itself and yes I would go to all that trouble and expense and risk of quarantine to attend my child's wedding.

With regards to other people not being concerned: our family did not go to church or restaurants for a year, until we were fully vaccinated. We wore masks at all times in grocery stores, etc. and tried to limit such trips. We spend part of our time in a state(Alabama) that is one of the worst offenders. When there, we are not currently wearing masks and are mostly proceeding as if it were pre-Covid normal. If I were around children, I would absolutely wear a mask to protect them in case I had it without symptoms. We still don't go to crowded places, except church(where all but one person in our Sunday School class have been fully vaccinated for months). Our view is that we can't stay at home forever and it looks like that's how long Covid will be here. I am NOT recommending this as a choice for you(or others on this forum), but trying to provide some insight into what some perceive as the troubling mentality of others.

"What happened to social distancing, wearing a mask, and staying away from hot spots with low vaccination rates and rising cases and hospitalizations? Those basic, layered public health measures haven't fallen out of vogue, although many Floridians, Texans and southerners seem to think so." Cultural differences. We Southerners think differently about a lot of things. I will restrain myself from making the obvious application of that fact(but Agnes did mention it in her post) and getting kicked off the forum.

Posted by
12501 posts

... is that she could possibly just plan on a 2-week trip. In
best-case scenario, she stays healthy, and doesn’t make anyone else
sick, and comes home after 2 weeks, as planned.

I'm confused. So have her make plans/reservations for an additional two weeks in Florida after the wedding? What if she doesn't contract the virus at the wedding but does within days of the scheduled flight home? She's still stuck, and for even longer that originally planned. And what if she does becomes very ill after the rest of the family has gone home to Canada? What if 2 additional weeks in Florida alone doesn't sounds like a great holiday to her (it wouldn't to me but It's not my favorite place to begin with) or she needs to go back to work, on simply can't swing the cost?

Kathleen, you're between that sad rock and hard place, aren't you. I am so sorry. :O(

But I love the idea of the virtual party in Canada and in-person fest with the newlyweds at a later time! In many ways, it would relieve a lot of stress and anxiety that could color your enjoyment of the event. Yes, I also know a fully vaccinated individual who is very sick with COVID right now, and wouldn't wish that on you or any of your family who would be traveling far from home! Your son and his bride would also be worried - not a great way to enjoy their first happy days as husband and wife? - and the number of filled ICU beds in Pensacola is frankly troubling.

You CAN be 'there', in joyful spirit and live stream, and with your other loved ones in Canada.
You are also allowed to feel whatever it is that you're feeling; I do hope your tender Mother's Heart remains in one piece!
So you had the family meeting over the weekend? What was the consensus?

Posted by
339 posts

Yes, family meeting held, consensus is that we will each (mom, dad, 3 adult siblings and 1 partner) will make their own go/no go decision on September 15 - 3 weeks before the wedding. My son's father and I are divorced so will make individual decisions. Everyone agrees that Plan B - a local party zoomed in to the event would be a really fun way to be there without being there. That would also allow attendance by step dad, grandparents and family friends, who have already decided against the trip. This is indeed a very difficult decision, but I know whatever decision we make individually will be the right decision for each of us. I will not feel silly, stupid or guilty if I choose not to attend. I will feel happy and proud for my son who is marrying a beautiful and amazing woman whom I love very much. Where ever I am on their wedding day I will raise a glass of champagne and welcome her to our family. Thanks again for all your ideas, thoughts, opinions and acknowledgements that this is a difficult decision for us. I will circle back following the wedding to let you know how it all played out.

Posted by
1583 posts

Good for you! Sometimes your gut reaction is trying to tell you something. We ignored ours at Christmas because we all wanted to be together so badly and it didn’t turn out well. We’re looking forward to hearing the outcome.

Posted by
25760 posts

I will be waiting with bated breath,,, isn't it too bad you can't share a photo here of the special day and of those who decide to stay home for stay-party....

Posted by
1758 posts

I sincerely hope it all works out for you. FWIW many years I made a huge decision that changed my life significantly. Years later I began to second guess that decision, but concluded that I had truly made a rational, careful choice after reviewing and studying all the options. The decision I came to was the best I could have made at the time. No more doubts, regrets, Sturm or Drang. Best wishes to the happy couple and all who love them. .

Posted by
4984 posts

Congratulations! The situation sounds like it will have an acceptable outcome - for everybody. With the next month to consider what’s happening in Florida, and with all invitees entitled to make their own decisions, without expectations thrust on them by anyone else, the wedding can happen for the couple, and no one else is required to be in any particular place to participate and celebrate.

Different times are necessitating different approaches, and different solutions. Now, what champagne are you going to use for your toast?

Posted by
339 posts

LOL Cyn - groom's father is a Sommelier, so there is no doubt it will be fabulous!

Posted by
339 posts

And Denny, I agree with your thoughts. Over the years I have found the most challenging part of making big decisions is actually making the decision. The analysis, the worrying, the (over)thinking, the stress etc. Once the decision is made, the rest is (relatively) easy. As an earlier poster said, all we can do is make the best decision based on the information at hand.

Posted by
12501 posts

That would also allow attendance by step dad, grandparents and family
friends, who have already decided against the trip.

The more, the merrier! Sounds like an excellent Plan B, and I'm sure it would be a lot of fun!
But you still have some time so rest easy; sounds like you'll wisely be at peace with either a go/don't go decision. :O)

Posted by
1402 posts

As a fellow Canadian, I think your idea of a dressed up to the nines Zoom party here in BC , for all the Canadians , sounds fabulous!
And as you say, then all the elders and others who weren't going anyway can be there.
Your son can also mention you via Zoom from the reception that way, so you are all included.
You could rent a restaurant room or space, and make it just like a true wedding venue, but with the bride and groom on screen.
I think in the end , you might feel safer; and you can have a second big party when all the borders are open again.
Florida sounds too much like a roulette wheel just now.
Best wishes to your son and future wife!

Posted by
237 posts

Go to your son’s wedding. To minimize your concerns, stay the minimum days to enjoy the festivities. The rest of the family can stay home if they wish. You would never leave your house again if you believe all the news. His wedding is far from the crowds in Florida.

Posted by
835 posts

Wait ... I thought the border was still closed to visitors from Canada. No?

Posted by
12210 posts

Donna, the border was never closed to Canadians flying into the US for tourism. There was a special exception for Canadians to allow “snowbirds” and others to fly to their winter homes in Florida, or elsewhere in the Sunbelt, for their usual winter visit. They were welcomed then, and they are still welcome now.

This made the news in part because some people were unhappy that they faced mandatory 3-day quarantine upon their return to Canada. There was a long thread in the TripAdvisor Washington State forum involving a woman who was trying to return home to Vancouver without flying in——she wanted to fly to Bellingham, make her way to Blaine, and walk across the border. I don’t know how it turned out for her.

Posted by
339 posts

I am the original poster of this thread, and wanted to circle back with my thanks. I greatly appreciated the many thoughtful responses as I endeavoured to work through my go/no go dilemma. I went, and boy am I glad I did. The wedding was beautiful, our travel experience was seamless and now, safely back home in Canada without issue, I can reflect. I am truly grateful that so many of you took the time to provide food for thought, to commiserate with my dilemma, and generally help me to sort out how I felt about travelling at this time. My son and daughter in law were so happy we attended, and in the future we will be thrilled to look at pictures of our family together on such a special day. Thanks again!

Posted by
873 posts

Thanks for coming back and sharing your experience. Congratulations on gaining a daughter!

Posted by
22 posts

Very glad you enjoyed your visit to my home state. The vast majority of Floridians take reasonable precautions against Covid, including vaccines, to protect themselves and visitors. Thanks for posting about your safe stay.

Posted by
1583 posts

So happy that it turned out to be a wonderful experience!