During a press conference last Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford asked that Manitoba residents refrain from visiting their cottages in northwestern Ontario, specifically Lake of the Woods, until the pandemic is over.
Ford’s statement comes after Manitoba instituted stricter interprovincial travel regulations on January 29. Anyone entering Manitoba from northwestern Ontario or Western Canada are now required to self-isolate for 14 days. But there is an exception for Manitoba residents visiting their Ontario cottages for essential maintenance.
According to the Manitoba government, a Manitoba resident is not required to self-isolate after visiting their cottage if they are symptom-free and have restricted their use of local services to the minimum required, and if they’re at the property for less than 24 hours or if they self-isolate there for two weeks.
“I understand my good friend Premier Pallister is saying it’s okay [to travel to Ontario] as long as you follow the protocols in Ontario,” Ford said during the press conference. “Folks in Manitoba and Quebec, I love you guys, but please don’t visit Ontario right now. And likewise to the people in Ontario. Don’t go visit Manitoba. Don’t go to Quebec.” Instead, the premier asked that everyone stay home.
Both Ontario and Manitoba have seen a growing number of positive cases of the new variant COVID strain, which prompted the provinces to crack down with stricter regulations. Ford said that Ontario has already identified 52 variant cases. To prevent the spread of the new variant, Ford said that interprovincial travel should be limited to essential purposes only.
As for how long restrictions will stay in place, Ontario is under stay-at-home orders until February 11 with Ford having said that the decision on whether to lift the restrictions will fall to the chief medical officer and Ford’s cabinet. He is optimistic, however, that the vaccine roll out over the next few months will help subdue the virus.
Ontario plans to issue 160,000 vaccinations a day throughout April, May, and June. “As long as we get the vaccines,” Ford added. By July, everyone who wants a vaccine should have one, he said.
In the meantime, Ford reiterated his statement to the people of Manitoba: “Lake of the Woods is a beautiful place…it’s like God’s country up there,” he said. “But please don’t come to Ontario right now…You’re great folks, but please hold off.”