The rules for people travelling to northern Manitoba when the next phase of reopening begins
The coast near Churchill, Man. is shown in this file photo by Rob Timchuk.
WINNIPEG -- Travel restrictions to northern Manitoba will be lifted as part of Phase Two of Restoring Safe Services in Manitoba, the province announced Wednesday.
According to the plan, Manitobans can travel north of the 53rd parallel and go directly to campgrounds, cabins, parks, lodges, and resorts, starting on June 1.
However, Manitobans may not travel if they have any symptoms of COVID-19. If you or your family members develop signs of the virus, you must return home immediately.
The plan also states you cannot use local healthcare providers unless it's an emergency. Travellers must bring all prescription drugs and medical supplies. In case there is a medical emergency that requires evacuation, you must take emergency contact information with you before leaving home.
Additionally, travellers are asked to avoid visiting local communities, including any First Nation communities.
In a Skype interview with CTV, Garrison Settee, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Grand Chief, said reopening the north will bring relief to communities who have been confined, and it is an opportunity for Manitobans to move forward.
“We support travel in Manitoba and residents in Manitoba,” Settee said. “I think we should restrict the movement to Manitobans, and I think people will have a sense of comfort knowing that Manitobans have done a good job in preventing COVID-19 from really penetrating the north.”
He said allowing travelers back to the north will help bring hope and help restore the economy.
“It’s an opportunity for First Nations to move forward, and I think that we will do well, but also keeping in mind that we are not out of the clear yet,” said Settee.
Churchill Mayor Mike Spence agrees that while reopening was expected, the move must be made with caution.
"Basically, as a community, we’re gonna have to manage our capacity. We’re gonna have to manage people,” said Spence. “There’s going to have to be protocols that we put into place.”
He said many of those will follow the health guidelines the province has already put into place, adding it will be a work in progress as they move through each phase.
“We’re a pretty resilient community," Spence said. "Are we up for the challenge? Absolutely. We have to be. And as long as we’re careful, prepare and plan, and put a response plan in place in case it's required."
He added communities like Churchill rely on tourism dollars and as a travel destination, they will be working hard to make sure their community is ready for visitors.
The province also asks travellers to be respectful of local restrictions and stick to physical distancing if they must visit local communities.
“The First Nations will continue to secure their borders and will continue to monitor the influx of traffic into First Nations as precautionary measures. But I think physical distancing is the new norm in the north,” Settee said.
He asked anyone travelling north to please remember to respect their space and their well-being.
“Keep in mind we are not out of the clear yet. We need to continue to proceed with extreme caution,” he said.
The full restrictions can be viewed below.