A message from Lake Simcoe mayors that would have been unthinkable only a few months ago–asking day-trippers not to visit their municipalities during the May long weekend.
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, people are being asked to skip the daytrip and not make the drive up north right now. A joint statement from the City of Orillia, Towns of Innisfil, Georgina, and Bradford West Gwillimbury, and the Townships of Ramara, Oro-Medonte, Brock and the County of Simcoe said while making the journey might seem harmless, it could heighten the chances of both spreading and contracting COVID-19, especially when stopping for gas or food during the trip.
“The Town of Innisfil is listening to our public health officials to ensure we support the health and well-being of our community. I strongly encourage all visitors to do the responsible thing and stay home. We look forward to welcoming everyone back and celebrating when it is safe to do so.” said Mayor Lynn Dollin, Town of Innisfil.
The statement said people who forgo warnings and take the trip will be disappointed to find that the outdoor amenities they were looking forward to are not available during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement added that under the Province of Ontario’s emergency order, access to outdoor recreational amenities such as playground structures, sports fields, picnic sites, and more will be closed or restricted until further notice. In addition, there may be local closures or restrictions of beaches and boat ramps.
People who were thinking of making a day trip north are being asked to carefully consider the impact an out-of-town visit will have on other communities, critical services and healthcare networks. The statement said Ontario has made steady progress to overcome COVID-19, but the virus has not yet been contained.
“The health and safety of our communities continues to be our top priority. Orillia is a great place to visit, but not during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the time being, please listen to the advice of our public health officials and stay home. We’re all in this together and we will get through this together. When we do, we look forward to welcoming you once again to the Sunshine City.” said Mayor Steve Clarke., City of Orillia.
If the request not to head north is ignored, people are being asked to visit the website of the municipality you plan to visit for local updates. The statement said the opportunity to support the local economy is extremely valuable but you are being asked to bring what you need with you to limit exposure and community transmission of the virus.
“To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Premier encourages people visiting their cottages to follow the advice and guidance of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, stock-up on supplies needed before heading to cottage county, and go directly to their properties without stopping on route in other municipalities. The Township of Oro-Medonte fully supports direction provided by the Province, and looks forward to welcoming people to the community when it is safe to do so.” said Mayor Harry Hughes, Township of Oro Medonte.
Even when the green light is given to gradually reopen public spaces, the statement from the municipalities said it will take time to ramp up operations.
“The County of Simcoe strongly encourages residents to follow public health guidelines and avoid unnecessary travel of any kind. As our communities and economy begin the guided process of reopening, it’s vital that we take a cautious approach, avoid gatherings, stay home as much as possible in our primary residence and do all we can to support our recovery. We have a beautiful region, but for now please experience Simcoe County from home through an abundance of available online opportunities, including our experience.simcoe.ca portal.” said George Cornell, Warden of Simcoe County