Visitors need to stay home, says Gore Bay council

GORE BAY – The Town of Gore Bay is providing the same message as other municipalities and First Nations on Manitoulin Island, that due to COVID-19 now having hit Manitoulin Island, that visitors need to stay away for now.

“I know it is unusual to make this type of statement as we are tourism-driven on the Island, but we have to tell people not to come to Gore Bay or the Island,” said Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne on Monday of this week. “We need to make sure everyone is protected.”

At a special Gore Bay council meeting last week, Mayor Osborne told council that after having met with local leaders in health services as well as municipal and First Nation leaders, “it is our duty as leaders to make sure people know about and are deploying social and physical distancing, and that those who are supposed to stay at home to self-isolate should be doing this.”

“Basically, we have posted on social media and our town Facebook page and website that Island municipal and First Nation leaders and health professionals agree that we all need to be discouraging summer residents and visitors from coming to the Island for now,” said Mayor Osborne. “We have all heard stories about people who have been out of the country coming back to the Island and visiting grocery stores and other businesses; this all has the potential of clogging up our hospitals. As Ian Anderson (mayor of the Township of Billings) had said at the meeting, we all need to come together for instance to discourage people from coming for the smelt run season, to visit or go their camps for now.”

In a letter posted on the town’s website, Mayor Osborne wrote in part, “council hosted a special meeting on Monday, March 26 to discuss the town’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff and council continue to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of the changes may seem extreme, we can assure you they are in the best interests of our community and ensure the continued health and safety of our citizens and staff.”

“We are in regular contact with the other municipal leaders and medical officials on Manitoulin, planning for what may come,” wrote Mayor Osborne. “We are collectively as municipalities trying to get the message out to any of our summer residents to stay home as to not put any undue strain on our hospitals, medical facilities and grocery stores. This may seem strange for a tourist-driven economy but it is in the best interest of our residents.” 

“This situation is new to all of us, there are no books to tell us what the best decision is but collectively the decisions we make are in our minds the best ones for our communities,” continued Mayor Osborne. He added, “I urge residents to follow the stay-at-home recommendation of public health officials. It is everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to limit the spread of the virus. Wash your hands, maintain appropriate distance from each other, but remain calm and remember we are in this together.”