The chamber of commerce in Kenora, Ont., is hoping to welcome back Manitoba tourists and cottagers in a big way this weekend — with a free, open-air street market on the town’s main drag, featuring live entertainment, local businesses, patios and more.
“I’m hoping everybody comes down, the weather looks phenomenal,” the chamber’s Tim Warkentin told Global News.
“We’re basically going to shut down Main Street in Kenora and welcome our extended family back — we kind of miss them.”
Throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manitobans with properties in Ontario’s cottage country have faced border restrictions when it comes to visiting their vacation homes, but with loosened regulations and an open border once again, Kenora is ready for business.
“In the summertime, our population in Kenora probably doubles with our summer residences,” said Warkentin.
“According to the stats, our seasonal residences contribute about $85 million per year to our economy.
“About 50 per cent of Kenora jobs are actually tourist-related.”
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said in mid-June when the bordering reopening was announced, that Manitobans who are crossing the border to visit their own property are exempt from the 14-day isolation requirement to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when they come back west.
Those who don’t own property and are not fully vaccinated are still expected to isolate on their return to Manitoba.
“As more and more weeks go by, we think it should become less and less an issue because we want more and more people with that double vaccine and gives them an exemption no matter what,” Roussin said.