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Please don't go to the cottage, Simcoe County urges

Stay close to home; 'Seasonal property owners may feel inclined to return early to distance themselves from urban centres amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,' says warden
2020-03-11 County JO-001
File photo/Village Media

The County of Simcoe greatly values its seasonal residents as members of this region and is asking cottagers, secondary homeowners, and seasonal residents to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by urging residents to shelter in place in your primary residence. Please consider the impact that early or unexpected off-season relocations can have on rural communities and smaller local health-care networks. 

Many cottagers make May long-weekend plans for their return and opening of their recreational property and may be considering doing this earlier this year due to self-isolation or other COVID-19-related restrictions. However, rural communities may have reduced capacity in attempting to respond to early increases in supply demands, especially impacts on local health-care systems. 

Federal, provincial and local public health officials are all imploring the public to curb travel because of the increased chances for the spread of COVID-19. Ontario is now in a critical two-week period where all citizens must heed public health warnings in order to reduce the impending impact on the healthcare system. Taking decisive steps now to flatten the curve and slow community transmission is the best way to protect residents’ social and physical well-being, as well as ensure an effective recovery. 
It is crucial that everyone follows the advice of medical experts to limit the opportunity for community transmission. The County of Simcoe operates long-term care homes throughout our region and residents in these homes are particularly vulnerable as shown in daily news reports. If Ontario residents shelter in place, especially during this critical two-week period, it will be further meaningful steps to help stop local transmission. We also point to the provincial requirements mandating that residents over 70 years of age self-isolate. This means no travel, even to seasonal dwellings. 
“It is critical that all our residents, seasonal and full-time, understand the importance of following the advice of health care experts including the recommendation for everyone to stay home to shelter in place in your primary residence,” said Warden George Cornell. “Seasonal property owners may feel inclined to return early to distance themselves from urban centres amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We ask seasonal property owners to carefully consider the impact that an early return will have as they make their decision.” 
Every year, the population of certain municipalities grow during the summer months. As COVID-19 continues to impact everyone’s ability to maintain levels of critical services, this rapid increase in population during this worldwide pandemic could impair our ability to provide for all residents during this time. 
To those seasonal residents who have already returned to Simcoe County such as snowbirds returning from the south, please act responsibly to protect your community by physically distancing, practising proper hygiene, and self-isolating as required. When self-isolating, do not leave your residence. Community resources are available to assist you with accessing essential supplies from home. Dial 2-1-1 for assistance accessing these resources. 
Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit 
Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association  
County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at