BRACEBRIDGE, ONT. -- Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith urges cottagers to pick a place and stay put after the province asked Ontarians to avoid unnecessary travel.

"If you want to be up here, stay here. If you want to be in the city, stay in the city. But don't travel back and forth between the two," Smith said.

The new stay-at-home order requires people to remain at home except for essential trips.

"Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes, which could include emergency maintenance of a secondary residence. In the spirit of the stay at home order, at this time, we are not recommending intra-provincial travel," stated Ivana Yelich, director of media relations with the Ontario Premier's Office.

Bracebridge's mayor said Ontarians are in the same situation and reminded everyone to stay focused. "If everybody isn't doing all those smart things and those right things, then this is going to go on for quite some time, which is, obviously, the exact opposite of what everybody wants.

So we can do this if everybody is smart about it."

Cottage country locals are encouraging visitors to hold off, even though the area relies on tourists. "It's a catch-22 because we need them to be here, and it's their privilege to be up here," said Bliss Boutique owner Elizabeth Walker.

The stay-at-home order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will remain in place for at least 28 days.