ford cottage country

Toronto residents told not to flock to cottages during COVID-19 pandemic

Staying in self-isolation in your small downtown Toronto apartment for weeks on end may seem torturous right about now, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to flock to a cottage in a nearby rural area.

Government and health officials in Ontario and across Canada are now warning city dwellers against ditching their downtown homes for cottage country during the pandemic in order to avoid depleting supplies and overwhelming healthcare systems in small rural towns.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford first warned against this trend during a press conference several days ago.

"I've been getting a tremendous amount of calls from cottage country mayors, if I can call them that, and residents too," Ford said, adding that rural areas are not equipped to deal with an increased demand for supplies.

"Also the hospitals, they don't have the capacity we do in urban settings and as they all say, 'We're going to welcome you with open arms when we get through this,' but right now it's putting a lot of strain on their system out there."

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Association issued a similar plea in its March 2020 Update.

The association said it had heard from a number members, partners, and municipal contacts that many are concerned that any transiting increases the chance of spreading the virus.

"FOCA reminds members that our rural communities have reduced capacity to accommodate sudden changes in supply demands," reads the update.

"Many of us wouldn't ordinarily open the cottage until nearer to the May long weekend. As we already know from our local grocery experiences, parts of the supply chain are under strain. Additionally, rural hospitals have limited capacity and resources, and you should consider where your health needs can best be met, in an emergency situation."

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, shared a similar sentiment during a press conference Sunday and emphasized the need for city dwellers across Canada to stay put.

"Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19," she said, adding that there's currently no reason to believe that anyone in a rural area has less of a chance of contracting the illness.

"Even if you have not heard of cases in your community, that does not mean that there are no cases or no exposures waiting to happen."

As of March 30 at 1 p.m., Canada has a total of 7,273 COVID-19 cases in the country and 70 deaths. Ontario reported 351 new cases Monday, bringing the provincial total to 1,706.

Lead photo by

Jack Nobre

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