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Coronavirus: Should you go to your cottage during Ontario’s provincewide shutdown?

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While the province isn't recommending non-essential travel right now, you can stay at your cottage – Jan 6, 2021

It has been up for discussion many times during the spring and summer in 2020: Should you go to your cottage during the coronavirus pandemic?

What has changed since then is the province is now under a provincewide shutdown and non-essential travel is not recommended by the Ontario government.

READ MORE: Despite warnings, nearly half of Canadians visited family, friends this holiday: poll

However, it is not against any laws to access your seasonal property.

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According to documentation, revised on Jan. 5, on Peterborough Public Health’s (PPH) website, the “safest option is to stay home at your primary residence, and avoid all non-essential travel, especially to other zones.”

“Frequent day trips to your seasonal property carry more risk. However, if your cottage is winterized, transitioning over for a longer stay, can also be a safer choice. The safest way to do this is to self-isolate, or drastically reduce close contact with others for the first 14 days,” the document states.

“We expect people will follow public health guidelines at all times. This applies to residents and seasonal residents,” stated Peterborough County warden J. Murray Jones.

Jones advised seasonal residents to follow the guidelines on the PPH website.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario hospital staff bracing for COVID-19 surge due to holiday rule-breakers

“We’re advising people to follow the information and advice from the medical officers of health, the province and limit the spread,” said Terry Rees, executive director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA).  “No matter where they are, they’re meant to be isolating and limiting their contacts with other people.”

Rees notes people should not be travelling right now or be in contact with people outside of their households.

“As we’ve said in the spring, if you can isolate in a remote location, be healthy and limit your contact with people, I think that’s a legitimate option for people,” he said. “If you’re living in a remote area, and you can live safely, limit your contact with outsiders, shop in a way that’s safe and still have access to medical, if you need it, then I think it’s legitimate, if you do it safely, you can do it in cottage country.”

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According to PPH, those staying at seasonal properties need to plan ahead, including:

  • purchasing all supplies and groceries ahead of time and plan to be self-sufficient for your stay. Avoid any unscheduled trips into town during your self-isolation. Have a plan for how you will replenish supplies, if staying longer.
  • Avoid stops on the way and go directly to the cottage. Fuel-up and bring snacks so that you can make your trip without any stops. Make sure to have hand sanitizer and face coverings with you in the event of an unplanned stop.
  • When you arrive, plan to isolate (no visits, no trips into town). Don’t invite guests — stay only with your household group.  Cancel your annual events — this is not a time to host a family Christmas or winter getaway.
  • Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 at least daily and if required call 705-876-5086 for an appointment or book online for a COVID-19 test in the City of Peterborough.
  • Once your 14 days are over, use curbside pickup to get supplies whenever possible and practice all other public health measures including physical distancing, wearing a mask, following social gathering limits, washing your hands and staying home if you are ill.
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