WINNIPEG — Despite repeated warnings urging Manitobans not to travel to cottage country over the Easter weekend to stop the spread of COVID-19, dozens went ahead anyway, according to Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard.
“Some people just don’t seem to understand the complexity of how dangerous the virus is and the strain it puts on a small community like ours,” said Reynard.
The mayor said he went on a drive downtown to the grocery and liquor stores and spotted around 20 Manitoba license plates. He says most people are following public health orders, but there is a small minority refusing to listen.
Reynard said an outbreak would overwhelm the community’s only hospital. “It services all lake communities, our community, approximately nine First Nations. You can see what kind of demand (COVID-19) would place on our hospital.”
The mayor said there are no known cases in Kenora, which may create a “false sense of security.” He said cottage-goers have reached out to him saying, “We’re just going to head down to our cabin, bring everything with us, and once we’re done, we’ll head home, we won’t head into the community.”
Reynard said it goes both way. People who live in Kenora are still travelling to Winnipeg for shopping trips. “The frustration level is all around… We’re trying to keep people where they need to be to keep our community and our health care system healthy.”
The mayor is asking provincial governments to close the Manitoba-Ontario border to non-essential travel. For now, neither Ontario Premier Doug Ford or Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister appears willing to explore that option.
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