The border debate

A debate is forming on Facebook. Should the border be opened to out of area summer residents or remain closed to protecting residents of the district from the virus. Both sides have solid arguments. I have mixed emotions. Our summer residents on our island hail from Wisconsin and Texas. We enjoy their company and often share weekend meals with them. They remain friends throughout the year and we exchange emails, and phone calls through the winter months.
An editorial cartoon in the Globe and Mail over the weekend illustrated cars moving along the highway heading to cottage country and on the roof of the leading car was the shape of the “COVID-19” virus strapped to the roof of the car. Ontario’s premier has campaigned to discourage city residents from travelling to cottage country and our local MPP Greg Rickford has spoken out to discourage Manitoba residents from travelling to their camps in the Kenora area.
Both are worrying that should the virus move to cabin and cottage country, the virus would overwhelm local hospitals.
The federal government has closed the international border to essential traffic discouraging US residents from travelling north to Canada to their cabins and for their annual fly-in fishing trips. That is where our island neighbors find themselves. They come for the summer returning back to the States after our Thanksgiving. It is their second residence that happens to be in Canada. Both families would have to totally self isolate at their cabins for 14 straight days on arriving without venturing out for groceries and supplies.
Their connection to the outside world from their cabins would be by phone or internet without any other human contact. Over many years paths have been created around the island which would offer hiking exercise. And the frigid cold waters of Rainy Lake would offer a quick cold bath for cleanliness.
Having neighbors on the island, even well separated by trees and bush and several hundred meters of walking trails offers another layer of safety in case of an emergency. I look forward to seeing them again.
But opening up the border for just two families sets a precedent. Other people on other parts of Rainy, Lake of the Woods, and many other lakes on Northwestern Ontario could make similar arguments as could all the tourist outfitters and camps in the region.
It is a conflict in my mind. Our immediate area has been without a single case of the virus for two full months. It is a great record and we can feel comfort in that. As the government moves to encourage more economic opportunities in the province, we are opening up ourselves to more danger. Now, we are taking every precaution to remain safe. Do we wish to risk removing some of the precautions we put in place to be safe by also opening up our borders? Will our friends from outside of our region be prepared to follow the same stringent rules on social distancing and self quarantining to keep everyone safe?

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