During the COVID-19 situation, the First Nation has developed a procedure of dashboard passes to limit access on the reserve road to our members. But they are concerned about their safety and that of their community due to a sudden influx of cottagers. The First Nation, as well as public health officials, are requesting that anyone who has a choice stays at home and does not visit their lake property.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada made this appeal recently:
“Urban dwellers/Cottagers should RESIST THE URGE to head to the cottage and rural properties as these communities have less capacity to manage COVID19.”
FOCA (Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Associations) has explained on their website:
Our rural communities have reduced capacity to accommodate sudden changes in supply demands. Many 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 resources, and you should consider where your health needs can best be met, in an emergency situation.
Furthermore, Dr. Sean Moore, chief of emergency services at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital advises:
“It’s not essential to go into a camp if you have another home in Winnipeg. Please, I would plead with people to try and respect the fact that we’re all trying to do our best to muck through this time of COVID.”
The local hospital only has 4 ICU beds, and presently five of the hospital’s physicians are in quarantine with flu-like symptoms.
“Stay where your doctor is, because we can’t provide that care that’s going to be necessary,” he said. “If, for some reason, you need to get to the emergency department, it’s going to be a mess.”
FOCA also has issued the following guidelines for those already self – isolating at the cottage:
- Provision yourself (with food, drink, 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.
- 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.
- Develop an exit plan with immediate family, in case you develop any indications of illness while at your waterfront property.