Manitoba cottage lobby group won’t protest new Ontario rules banning non-essential travel

Manitobans hoping for an exemption that will let them visit their Ontario cabins once that province’s new pandemic rules take effect will have to make the case themselves, the president of Manitoba’s cottage lobby group says.

“We’re staying out of that,” Gus Wruck of the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners said on Saturday.

“We’re not even going to lobby for them. They have to take this position up themselves.”

Starting Monday, people in Manitoba looking to visit their Ontario properties will be out of luck. That’s unless their cottage is their primary home or if they’re travelling to prevent damage to the property.

The ban on non-essential road travel from Manitoba and Quebec is part of new public health restrictions Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Friday.

Those rules come amid a continued rise in highly contagious coronavirus variants in the province.

Ontario Provincial Police will have checkpoints set up to screen all vehicles at the province’s borders. 

Anyone who doesn’t either have permission to enter or meet one of the few exceptions to the ban — being an essential worker or travelling for either medical care, transportation of goods or to exercise treaty rights — will be turned away.

Wruck said his organization’s members are sympathetic to cottagers, “but they do not want to get involved with this at all.”

“We’re not going to debate it because Ontario has every right to make the new rules that they would like,” he said.

But some Manitobans who vacation in Ontario say the new border restrictions don’t make sense.

Winnipegger Christine Skene said she isn’t sure she’ll be able to go to her family’s island cottage in Kenora this summer now.

“I don’t think we’re the problem in Ontario. Northwestern Ontario is very cautious. They have no capacity for extra illness,” Skene said, adding that she shops in Winnipeg and makes no stops while at the cottage.

“It seems like they’re working all around the perimeter instead of targeting where they need to to attack their cases.”

And while the new rules are a bit of a disappointment for now, Wruck said he has his eyes on the next few months.

“All I am hopeful [for] is that by the time the summer starts rolling around … we will have a vaccination program well underway and there’s no need for [the travel restrictions] then.”

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