Summer residents and visitors from the west can now access their cottages, visit family and friends as well as enjoy Lake of the Woods now that the Ontario/Manitoba border restrictions have been lifted.

Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard welcomes out-of-towners back with open arms and says the border opening is very timely for a couple of reasons.

“First, if we look at it from an economic perspective, we all recognize that our summer residents and visitors are a huge part of our social and economic fabric here – the success of our community,” says the Mayor.

“Secondly, looking at it from a health perspective. It’s so important. If we’ve learned anything from the last 17 months is the impact COVID had on our mental and physical wellness. For people to be able to access their properties, be on the water and discover nature, I think it’s impactful and important. So we welcome back based on both those perspectives,” he adds.

The active COVID-19 case count as of June 16 in Manitoba is 2,799 and the five-day COVID-19 test positivity rates are at 9.7 per cent provincially and 9.2 per cent in Winnipeg. The Mayor says these numbers are not something to be fearful of.

“Is it in the back of my mind? Certainly. But am I greatly concerned? No. We’ve been doing this for 17 months. People know the proper protocols. Our businesses have protection in place. The majority of visitors are going to go to their cottages and stay there for the most part. They’ll come into the community to shop or sit on a patio, but it’s not like we’re going to have this huge influx of people who are COVID infected. I always refer to the Health Unit and in that case they have indicated that there’s nothing that shows that we’re at risk right now,” he says.

According to the Northwestern Health Unit’s weekly vaccination report, 71.1 per cent of residents in the catchment area have received their first does while 34.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.

“If you look at last year, people were in the community. There’s nothing that shows that our numbers were driven by what happened in Manitoba. We had three major outbreaks in outlining communities. There were other factors involved, too, like not having great housing opportunities. It would be difficult to isolate.”

Last Friday (June 11), the Ontario government announced that they were going ahead with an earlier than expected start date for Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen. With that, non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity, outdoor dining, and overnight camping at campgrounds and campsite are permitted, to name a few.

“I’ve heard that there has been talk of moving Step Two up earlier. Everything seems to be in line for us to be much more optimistic than we were two or three weeks ago. Given the fact that we’re still only half way into June, I think we have a great opportunity to have a great summer,” he mentioned. 

Some Manitobans visiting Ontario are reminded that they must self-isolate for 14 days after returning to their home province unless they have been fully vaccinated for two weeks and/or have their immunization card. 

“On behalf of the City of Kenora, we really want to extend welcome to our summer residents and visitors. Welcome back. Let’s follow the rules, let’s continue to protect each other and let’s be good to each other. It’s very important that we’re all in this together and now let’s all share this success as we move forward.”