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Council supports province; withdraws motion for further discouragement of non-essential travel

A resolution deferred from last week to further discourage non-essential travel to Prince Edward County has been withdrawn.

Considering the position of the province stated this morning, Mayor Steve Ferguson told council he considered the resolution “inappropriate and disrespectful to put forward today,” noting it is “effectively redundant.”

Ferguson updated council on a conference call yesterday with Premier Ford, cabinet members and about 100 mayors from rural municipalities concerned about the imminent arrival of cottagers and tourists as the Victoria Day long weekend approaches.

Ferguson said every municipality that had the opportunity to speak shared similar concerns about tourists putting pressure on local health care, resources, pressure on law enforcement and pressures to adjudicate differences of opinion in the community.

Each, he said, stated a need for a position to be taken by the province as warmer weather approaches – especially for rural areas.

In a statement this morning, Premier Ford did not explicitly advise cottagers not to travel, but said there will be plenty of long weekends to come, and if they did travel, they must follow health and safety recommendations and continue to practise social 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,” said Ford in his statement.

Council also heard from five citizens who had called in to participate, prior to hearing the motion to withdraw.

Joshua Grant spoke to the importance of following advice of provincial and health authorities due to the fluid and complicated nature of the coronavirus.

Julie Gaudet hoped council will consider the needs of seasonal residents noting they are not transient “weekend warrior types”.

Richard Barrett, of the Prince Edward County Accommodation Association, noted the membership would be sending notices to guests asking them to be patient, stay home, and be welcome here once health authorities give the green light.

Lesley Lavender, executive director of the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce, recognized the motion to withdraw, and took the opportunity to share a message from chamber businesses to make council aware some fear they will not survive being closed throughout the pandemic.

She also commended those who are operating, and stated she is confident that when businesses are allowed to fully open they will also be respectful of health and safety needs of employees and customers.

The motion to withdraw the motion was accepted unanimously.

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  1. angela says:

    Council is under a lot of pressure to open up the county. One letter to the editor in the Gazette this week was interesting, A B and B owner was calling it economic suicide if the lock-down remains. Apparently her B and B business is so lucrative that in just two months she earns enough to sustain her for a year. Opening the county to visitors is not a good thing at this time. We know that these vacationers seem primarily interested in having a good time – normal when on holiday but dangerous at a time like this. We are just a playground. Right now we are even more attractive because the incidence of the virus is low here. The shelves of local grocery stores already are bare of some items. Things will worsen if we have an influx of visitors. Council needs to think first and foremost of its full-time residents. Missing a season at the cottage may be a disappointment but it is hardly the end of the world.

  2. olmnonthemtn says:

    This is a post I made to the Globe and Mail re visitors/cottagers coming to rural/cottage country:
    As a local rural resident whose community contains several provincial parks we have noticed far too many people persisting on visiting a park with limited space and not abiding with social distancing and non-congregating conventions despite the parks being posted as closed.

    Here is a response
    “Well I have news for you – those provincial parks belong to all of us, not just you.
    But feel free to report transgressors via one of the snitch-lines”

    and my response:
    Hey lets all do what we want just like the ultra right liberty or give me death leader or god will save us pastor who catches the virus or the collegers who went to Mexican beaches and came back with the covid and probably spread it to God knows how many others . Yeah and the parks are closed for all of us even those who don’t appreciate the risks.

  3. Doris Lane says:

    It is not great that council has rescinded the motion to keep a lot of tourists out
    I drove up street this morning and was discouraged to see people standing at car windows talking to people. Also saw them parked on country road and talking through the truck windows
    I find it intolerable that people are going into stores without masks People can be contagious without showing signs and can spread their germs around quite easily
    I will not go in a store unless they put up a sign requiring everyone to wear a mask inside the store
    A lot of people come to the county who do not care about what happens here
    We are not equipped to handle large outbreaks. Re doctors letter a few weeks ago
    Re the letter before me where she saw people gathered outside a building and she had to walk on the street to get a distance from them
    Come on Picton wake up and follow guide lines or we will be in trouble

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    I’m not sure if the province has provided true leadership in clarifying what rules people are to follow. Ford basically has “asked” citizens to avoid non-essential travel and “asked” them to be well supplied and not to have unnecessary contact with the locals. If visitors really do this, then they will be no benefit to the local economy. In reality, Ford has given no clear direction at all – it is wishy-washy politicking – the last thing we need during a pandemic.

    My fear is that by the fall we will experience a second wave of this disease – a wave that will hit much harder because we had never eradicated the first wave and more will become infected.
    It is very unfortunate that a number of business associations did not talk with the Public Health Department – in fact, did anyone at Shire Hall ask for medical advice, prior to making this decision? I am not sure if following the provincial government lead was the right decision – the disease certainly is still very much around us. What concerns me is that this issue was treated more as a business issue. rather than a medical one.

  5. Maureena Courtney says:

    Comment: Concerned about people congregating in front of businesses (bank, coffee shop etc.) on sidewalks. I walked by a coffee shop and had to walk on the road because people were in a big circle and not lined up against the the building walls. Need more vigilance there by police and business owners before the long weekend.
    Thank you

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