WEST HAWK LAKE -- Five interprovincial border checkpoints aimed at informing travellers heading into Manitoba about COVID-19 are now operational, the province confirmed Tuesday.

Checkpoints are set up as you enter into Manitoba on Highway 1 from Ontario or Saskatchewan. There are also checkpoints on Highway 16 west of Russell, Man., Highway 5 west of Roblin, Man. and on Highway 2 west of Sinclair, Man.

The Manitoba government said Tuesday afternoon in the past 24 hours, 1,433 vehicles passed through the checkpoint on Highway 1 east, 992 on Highway 1 west, 144 vehicles have crossed at Highway 2, 156 at Highway 5 and 247 at Highway 16.

The checkpoint located at the Manitoba/Ontario border is staffed by conservation officers. As motorists pull up, they’re greeted by officers who tell travellers it’s mandatory they self-isolate for 14 days if they’re returning from international travel. People are told it’s strongly recommended they self-isolate for 14 days if they’re arriving from a different province and Manitoba’s their final destination.

Officers then offer to hand people an information sheet from a safe distance, using a grabber tool.

The Manitoba government isn’t denying entry to people who arrive at the checkpoints. Everyone, including commercial truckers, is required to stop. Commercial truckers aren’t required to self-isolate. Neither are workers, including those in health care, who live in a different province but work in Manitoba.

The information sheet handed out at the checkpoint states normal personal travel in border communities, including visits to a cottage, is allowed. However, public health officials, this week have been urging Canadians not to ride out the pandemic at their cottages. Officials have said it’s because hospitals and health care centres in smaller communities may not be equipped to handle different emergencies or extra care related to COVID-19.

For that reason, Kenora, Ont. resident April Medwechuk — who crossed into Manitoba Tuesday to take her two dogs to a veterinary clinic — said she’s surprised there’s no checkpoint as you enter Ontario from Manitoba.

“Kenora is limited for services, our hospital couldn’t take an influx if we got COVID,” she said. “Our ER is always busy, especially in the summer when we have an influx of summer residents. Now is not the time for us to have an influx.”

Winnipeg resident Murray Sprange is listening to public health officials. He visited his cottage in Ontario but is now heading home because of the recommendations.

“I went down there for a couple of days thinking it was a good idea but perhaps not,” he said after crossing through the checkpoint. “The public health people are saying get back home. It wouldn’t be a good idea to fall and break an arm in Kenora right now.”

He said physical distancing is easy at the cottage but he still decided it was best to head home where he plans to stay away from others.

“It’s the right thing to do right now,” Sprange said.