Winnipeg cottage country sees some travel May long weekend amid COVID-19

Kenora, Ont. Submitted by: Janet Cretton

Winnipeg’s cottage country towns did not see the typical influx of visitors over the long weekend amid public health recommendations to travel without stopping for supplies to quell the threat of spreading COVID-19. 

But some seasonal residents did travel.

READ MORE: Cottage country mayors urge extreme long weekend caution to protect locals from coronavirus

“With the reopening strategy, we’ve moved from that ‘stay home’ to ‘stay safe’,” Manitoba’s top public health official Dr. Brent Roussin said last Wednesday ahead of the long weekend. “But we do want people to recognize, and I think Manitobans do, that this isn’t back to normal, though. There’s a lot of precautions people still need to take.”

Gimli’s mayor said the Interlake town saw some seasonal residents arrive over the Victoria Day weekend.

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“There wasn’t as many people out as there normally is this weekend, but I know there’s some folks who are still waiting until it sounds like June or July before they do a lot of travelling,” Mayor Lynn Greenberg said in a phone interview Monday. “It was fairly busy but not like some years … but still quite a few people.”

But people seemed to follow public health protocols, Greenberg noted.

“For the most part, people are following the physical distancing rules,” he said. “Everybody understands the virus is very bad.”

Kenora, Ont., was busy to a degree, according to the Lake of the Woods Stewardship Association’s executive director Diane Schwartz.

However, Schwartz said she couldn’t quantify how busy that was, noting that although she lives in the Lake of the Woods area year-round, she’s currently staying in Winnipeg for family reasons — so she could only relay anecdotes.

“Not the normal first big weekend that’s for sure,” Schwartz said in a phone interview. “There’s other (property owners) that are saying they’re coming down, I’ve been down, I’ll stay at my cottage, I’m going to be safe.

“All we’re really doing is encouraging people to respect other people’s decisions and very reluctantly asking them to minimize their trips to the businesses in Kenora,” she added, noting that most stores and restaurants in the small northwestern Ontario city are still closed as non-essential businesses.

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Ontario will allow some non-essential businesses to reopen Tuesday, although private parks, campgrounds, marinas and golf courses were allowed to reopen Saturday.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario outlines what can restart for Stage 1 of reopening province beginning Tuesday

Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard could not be reached for comment over the holiday but has previously warned seasonal residents to take significant precautions if they do decide to come to the city to avoid the spread of COVID-19, which has seen relatively few cases.

“People are going to come — and I can’t encourage them to come — but they are going to come, so try to be as prepared as you can so it limits that interaction of having to come into town,” Reynard said last Wednesday.

Click to play video: 'From “stay home” to “stay safe”; a shift in Manitoba health officials’ messaging' From “stay home” to “stay safe”; a shift in Manitoba health officials’ messaging
From “stay home” to “stay safe”; a shift in Manitoba health officials’ messaging – May 13, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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