LOWDSA Member Update on Manitoba/Ontario Travel Restrictions

COVID-19 

Member Update on Manitoba/Ontario Travel Restrictions

& Plans to Visit Your Cottage


If You're Thinking About Travelling to Your Cottage .....

As of March 31, 2020 (Kenora)

Recent announcements by both the province of Manitoba and the province of Ontario have introduced important new measures to help control the spread of the corona virus. The travel restrictions and provincial appeals for public cooperation will have an impact on the decision of many LOWDSA members in planning visits to their cottages. It also impacts year-round Lake of the Woods area residents planning visits to Winnipeg.

We want you to be aware so you take these measures into consideration when electing to travel to your cottage whether it is within a given province or trans-provincial travel. The information and directives issued by various levels of government do not advise travelling to the cottage at the present time. All health authorities continue to advise that we need to maintain physical distancing and stay put in order to flatten the curve.

Dr. Sean Moore, chief of emergency services at Lake of the Woods District Hospital comments about the lack of resources in the hospital ER and the ICU is of particular concern. “We are a tiny operation compared to the hospitals in Manitoba and we are already well beyond capacity,” said Dr. Sean Moore, Chief of Emergency Services at Lake of the Woods District Hospital. “Our infrastructure and staffing is past capacity on a normal day for just our year-round residents. Add several thousand cottagers opening up their camps and we have the recipe for disaster on our hands.”  (Guidelines tip sheet for rural travellers thinking of cottaging or camping during COVID-19 just released by the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada attached.)

Kenora Mayor Daniel Reynard asks our summer residents to stay in their permanent home, not come to their cottages or summer residences. “This is a difficult request to make to our valued summer residents and visitors. They are vital to our business community and as spring starts to appear, become a valued part of our community,” he said. “Asking visitors and summer residents not to come to Kenora is everything opposite that Kenora has been working for but we really need everyone to just stay home. It is key to making the difference in the spread of this virus by what we have seen in other countries. We simply need everyone to follow the direction of the health experts. The bottom line is our local health care providers will not have the resources or capacity to meet the demands of a growing summer population,” states Mayor Reynard. (Full release attached.)

LOWDSA has been working to obtain clarification from both provinces and delayed circulating these announcements to association members until we had complete, accurate information to share. “While it has taken longer to obtain this information than we had hoped, we recognize the incredible pressure all provincial officials, elected and staffers, are under in the face of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation,” noted LOWDSA president Hardy Bock.   

Policy updates and changes will continue to flow from all levels of government and we will continue to monitor these, in some cases sharing them with LOWDSA members.  Given the speed and volume of announcements it will not be possible to report on all of them and we encourage you to bookmark the following links for the most current information. If you do have specific questions you think LOWDSA can help with, please let us know and we will do our best to answer your questions or direct you to the best resource for the information you want.

For more information, questions and most current information on provincial or federal policies and restrictions:

     Northwestern Health Unit      Ontario     Manitoba     Canada   


Province of Ontario Travel Restrictions

On Friday, March 27, the Province of Ontario issued an amber travel alert that indicated that travelers returning to Ontario are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days and not to visit stores, family or friends. At this time, Ontario does not have travel restrictions in place for inter-provincial travel. However, although it is not mandatory, the Ontario Acting Medical Officer of Health strongly recommends anyone entering the Northwest Ontario region from any destination to self-isolate for 14 days. This would include Ontario residents returning home from out-of-province travel.

In conjunction with issuing the amber alert, the Premier of Ontario strongly urged cottage owners to remain in their home community and not head to the cottage to self-isolate. Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, weighed in on the subject at a press conference in Ottawa on Sunday, March 29th stating "Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19."  

A statement of appeal from MPP Greg Rickford on Monday, March 30th,, included with this eNews, reinforced this message. It's supported by:  Mayor Dan Reynard (Kenora); Dr Sean Moore (Chief of Emergency Services at Lake of the Woods District Hospital); Francis Kavanaugh (Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty #3); Dr. Ian Gemmill (Acting Medical Officer of Health); and Marilyn Herbacz (CEO for the Northwestern Health Unit). An additional appeal was made by the City of Kenora in a statement released March 31st and included with this bulletin. (Full release attached.)


Province of Manitoba Travel Restrictions

A similar message was delivered by Manitoba health officials and political leaders on Monday, March 30th. Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer urged Manitobans not to travel, not even to the cottage.

 

March 30, 2020, Manitoba COVID-19 Bulletin #36

https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=47338&posted=2020-03-30

This bulletin contains the following information regarding travel between Manitoba and other provinces. Under the Public Health Act, new public health orders are in effect immediately. Additional details are available at  www.manitoba.ca/covid19/soe.html.  Public health officials continue to strongly advise all Manitobans, including health-care providers, to cancel or postpone any recreational, tourist or non-essential international or domestic travel.  In addition, anyone who returns from international or domestic travel must self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days following their return.
This does not include:

     . workers involved with the commercial transportation of goods and services;

     . workers who live in a neighbouring jurisdiction and travel to Manitoba for work;

     . health care workers who travel to work from outside the province;

     . normal personal travel in border communities

An important change to the exception above was made with the release of the March 29th bulletin with the phrase “including visits to a cottage.” It was included in previous bulletins but now removed.

This last exception has been interpreted a number of different ways and LOWDSA continues to work to get clarification on several important aspects that may affect individual decisions to head to the cottage.  

 

From the Federation of Ontario Cottagers:

The days ahead will present many different challenges and even sacrifices for all of us, and seclusion in your happy place at the lake is understandably appealing. If that is something you are considering , we would ask also that you give some consideration to a post from the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) we shared earlier this week.   

Sheltering at the cottage: an emerging discussion; Safety First

What if you own property in two places in Ontario, and want to relocate from one to the other, such as: shelter in place at your cottage? FOCA has heard from many members, partners, and municipal contacts over the past days about this issue. Many are concerned that any transiting increases the chance for spread of illness.

FOCA reminds members that our rural communities have reduced capacity to accommodate sudden changes in supply demands; put another way, cottage country isn't expecting you yet. Most of us wouldn't ordinarily open the cottage until nearer to the May long weekend. As we already know from our local grocery experiences, parts of the supply chain are under strain. Additionally, rural hospitals have limited capacity, and you should consider where your health needs can best be met, in an emergency situation.

If you do relocate to your waterfront residence (or are there already), FOCA suggests the following:

1. Connect with your lake association on social media (find many connections via FOCA's Facebook page, here). As always, these are the people who know your waterfront area best!

2. Provision yourself for several weeks (with food, drinks, gas, hardware supplies, prescriptions) before leaving your off-season community, so that you will not need to make stops along the way. This is not the time for our usual credo to "buy local" in cottage country. As you would do anywhere at this time, should you urgently need anything from a retailer or pharmacy, you should call ahead to see if there are options for safe pickup or delivery.

3. Continue to follow all the principles of social distancing at the cottage! Although cottage country is usually the place for relaxed rules, that cannot be the case anywhere for the foreseeable future. Cottages are often the gathering places for multiple households in an extended family; for now, and possibly for some time to come, that could put everyone at risk.

4. Develop an exit plan with immediate family, in case you develop any indications of illness while at your waterfront property.

5. As the clock slows down on our usually-hectic schedules, use this time to enjoy nature, cook, read, sing, dance, nap, and dream about dock-jumping time to come.