KENORA – Premier Doug Ford has taken issue with a Manitoba policy allowing residents with cottages in northwestern Ontario to cross the provincial border without self-isolating upon their return.
Speaking at a Friday press conference, Ford said the message should be clear: only those travelling for essential reasons should cross provincial borders.
“Folks in Manitoba and Quebec, I love you guys – but please, don’t visit Ontario right now,” Ford said at a Friday press conference. “And likewise to the people of Ontario.”
On Thursday, a new order extended the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after entering Manitoba to cover groups that had previously been exempt, including Manitobans returning home, and residents of certain parts of northwestern Ontario.
However, the province is allowing some exemptions, including for Manitoba residents who regularly travel to areas close to the border to “attend at their property.”
They must also be symptom free, restrict their travel and use of local services to the minimum required, and follow Ontario’s public health guidelines.
The exemption had been raised as a problem around the cabinet table by Kenora MPP Greg Rickford, Ford said Friday, in response to a question from Kenora Online.
“I know there’s an issue up in Kenora,” he said. “Minister Rickford mentioned it today at cabinet, and I had to pull him off the ceiling, because from what I understand, my good friend Premier Pallister is saying it’s okay [as long as you] follow the protocols in Ontario.”
Ford reiterated his call for Manitobans to wait until the pandemic was under control to visit the region.
“I’m asking again, to people in Manitoba: Lake of the Woods is a beautiful place – if you haven’t been there, when we get through this, go up to Kenora, it’s like God’s country up there; But please, don’t come to Ontario right now.”
Rickford has raised the issue of Manitobans visiting cottages in the Kenora region since the spring of 2020.
Ford raised hopes the situation could improve sooner than later, thanks to rising vaccination levels heading into the summer, but cautioned he couldn’t say with certainty when interprovincial travel could freely resume.
“As long as we get the vaccines [from the federal government], anyone who wants a vaccination, I’d say by the middle of July should be able to have a vaccination,” he said.