Premier Doug Ford is clarifying the advice on whether GTA residents should head to the cottage for the Victoria Day long weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ford released a statement on Thursday after speaking with mayors in the region on Wednesday afternoon.
In his statement, the premier appealed to two specific groups of people — those who call cottage country their second home, and those who visit from time to time.
For those seasonal residents who are eying the trip north in one week’s time, the province knows it’ll be a tough ask to tell people to stay city dwelling for the time-being. So the recommendation for those who have cottages is to follow public health measures and practice physical distancing.
“We are still battling a terrible virus, so we are asking seasonal residents travelling to their cottages to practice the same public health measures as usual, including no public gatherings, avoiding nonessential travel as much as possible, and continue to practice social distancing,” Ford said in the statement.
But, the premier is asking those wanting to just visit cottage country to stay home.
“Cottage country residents are known for their hospitality and normally they would be welcoming tourists with open arms right now. This year, however, they are asking visitors to help them fight the spread of COVID-19 and hold-off travelling to these regions until it is safe to do so,” Ford said.
“I know Ontarians are eager to enjoy the great outdoors, but there will be plenty of long weekends to come. Right now, we need to focus on doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.”
The province announced Wednesday it is allow non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup next week. Ford said garden centres and nurseries will also be allowed to open on Friday, and hardware stores and safety supply stores will be allowed to reopen on Saturday.
He said those stores will be expected to follow the same public health measures as grocery stores and pharmacies currently do, such as physical distancing, offering contactless payment and sanitizing surfaces.
The LCBO will also be expanding store hours that were reduced in March ahead of the long weekend.
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