Cottagers rejoice: Access to secondary residences allowed

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Those living outside area can now visit property in H-N

Reformer staff
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Published on: May 15, 2020 | Last Updated: May 15, 2020 8:11 PM EDT

Health advisories regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus have become part of Norfolk County’s branding during this pandemic emergency. Signs at the gateways to Ontario’s Garden carry news of public health orders. – Monte Sonnenberg photo MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Those living outside of Haldimand and Norfolk can once again access their secondary residences within the two counties.

An order restricting people from outside the counties from accessing their seasonal properties has been rescinded, the local health unit announced in a media release on Friday.

“Residents of Haldimand and Norfolk have made many sacrifices fighting the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing and other measures,” Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Medical Officer of Health, said in a press release. “Rescinding this public health order, however, should not be interpreted to mean that this battle is over. Social distancing measures remain in effect and are critical to completely breaking the coronavirus’ chain of transmission in our community.” 

The controversial public health order, issued on April 23, upset many seasonal property owners.

“We shouldn’t be treated as second-class citizens,” Karen Deans, president of the Long Point Ratepayers Association, said at the time.  “It’s like we’re carrying leprosy. We pay taxes 12 months a year; we own the property 12 months a year. We pay dearly for what we have.”

Although the order has been revoked, officials hope people living outside the area will still postpone visits to Haldimand and Norfolk. 

Nesathurai continued to say that non-essential travel increases the risk of transmission.

“If travel is absolutely necessary, please bring your own groceries and fuel your vehicle up in your home community. And if you’re thinking about a day-trip, please consider putting it off for a little while longer.” 

In Haldimand and Norfolk there has been an average of less than one positive COVID-19 case per day over the last few weeks.

 “We continue to have serious concerns about the potential for a second wave of disease to hit our community, and the havoc that would wreak on our economy,” Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp, chair of the Haldimand Norfolk Board of Health, said in the release. “That’s why myself and other cottage country mayors have been asking for the province’s support in deterring day-trippers and non-essential visitors – who we’d ordinarily welcome with open arms – until we’re safely through this pandemic.”

There will be an increase in the number of bylaw patrols this weekend to ensure social distancing regulations are being followed, said the release.

Under provincial order gatherings of more than five people who do not all live in the same household are prohibited. Individuals must also remain at least two metres from each other at all times. 

As of Friday morning, there were 204 positive cases of COVID-19 in the two counties.