Bruce County officials say 'Cottagers, stay away'

A cottage in Bruce County, Ont. is seen on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (Scott Miller / CTV London)

Lake Huron may be calling, but Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau wants cottagers to stay away for the time being.

“The way to fight COVID-19 is to stay home for all but essential reasons, and that has to include non-essential travel to cottages. Whether that cottage is in Saugeen Shores or anywhere,” he says.

That message was echoed by the Grey-Bruce Health Unit, which strongly recommended against any non-essential travel to or from Grey or Bruce County, where there are currently five confirmed cased of COVID-19.

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations is also warning folks who may want to “escape the city” to ride out this pandemic, to think twice.

“Cottage country is not expecting you, yet. Rural hospitals have limited capacity and resources, and you should consider where your health needs can be best met in an emergency situation,” the organization stated on their website.

The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula is recommending visitors stay away as well, and for cottage renters already in the area, to head home.

The Bruce Peninsula National Park closed down entirely last week, yet people are still turning up hoping to walk the trails and walk around in nearby Tobermory.

Milt McIver, the mayor of the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, says, “In the future, the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula will be here to host you and give you and incredible experience; however, I am requesting for now, you share your memories of past visits or make plans to explore our area, when it is safe to travel, again.”

Charbonneau hopes the recommended travel restrictions are a short-term measure.

“Can you imagine in any other time when a mayor of a community that relies on tourism, tell people not to come to their community? Ten days ago, that is a message I never would have delivered, ever. But these are different times."