Fort Gibraltar staff saddened after pair of tourists broke quarantine rules, said they’d lie next time

By | August 6, 2020

Staff at a Winnipeg tourist destination are disappointed after a pair of out-of-province tourists were refused entry for violating quarantine rules, and then said they’d lie to avoid being turned away again.

“The initial reaction was surprise: surprise that anyone would disregard people’s health that easily and surprise that people wouldn’t take these rules strictly,” said Nicolas Audette, marketing and communications manager for Festival du Voyageur.

“It’s disappointing to see that people would disregard the current provincial guidelines.”

Staff at Fort Gibraltar — a St. Boniface historic site and a main venue for the annual Festival du Voyageur — had to turn away a pair of tourists over the Terry Fox Day long weekend, Audette said, after the tourists told staff during a routine screening process they’d arrived in Manitoba from Quebec the day before.

Visitors from Quebec, or anywhere else in Canada east of Terrace Bay, Ont., are currently subject to a 14-day self-isolation requirement after arriving in Manitoba.

Fort Gibraltar’s policy is to ask all visitors if they’ve been in contact with someone with COVID-19, if they have symptoms and if they’ve recently travelled before allowing them to enter the site.

A pair of tourists told staff at Fort Gibraltar over the long weekend they’d arrived in Manitoba from Quebec the day before attending the tourist site. (CBC)

When the visitors said they’d recently arrived and hadn’t self-isolated, “our employee told them, ‘unfortunately, we won’t be able to let you visit the fort today,'” at which point the visitors became “quite vocally upset,” Audette said in an interview Thursday on CBC Manitoba’s Information Radio.

“What they said was, they’re very upset and they’re going to go somewhere else. And if ever they’re asked again if they’ve done the 14-[day] quarantine, they’re probably just going to lie and say they have, so they don’t have to encounter this problem again.”

Most customers on board with rules

Most visitors to Fort Gibraltar have been supportive of the safety measures in place, Audette said. Those include the visitor screenings, increased cleaning and sanitation, and more self-guided content.

The site has moved to a “pay what you can” model for entry in response to the modified programming, he said.

“This was definitely an unusual interaction. In general, people are very welcoming of these new measures and are thankful that we have these measures in place,” Audette said.

“They feel much safer once they’re at the fort because these measures are in place.”

People from east of Terrace Bay are welcome at Fort Gibraltar, Audette added, as long as they’ve followed provincial rules about self-isolation.

Overall, Audette said he’s been happy to see the site’s doors open again, even if the programming isn’t the same as prior to the pandemic.

“If we want to get out of this pandemic, we all have to work together,” he said.

“It’s up to everyone — not just us, but also tourists — to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to respect provincial guidelines and to do everything they can so we can get out of this pandemic together.”

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