‘We need a little bit of help right now,’ seasonal cottagers overwhelm cottage country
BARRIE -- The message from government officials to stay home and not overwhelm Cottage Country during its offseason aren’t sinking in.
Bracebridge and Gravenhurst are seeing an influx of seasonal cottagers this weekend, and Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith says he's seen enough.
"We need a little bit of help right now for everyone that loves Muskoka to do the right thing for us all collectively," says Smith.
Muskoka was busy despite pleas from local mayors and health officials asking people not to visit.
"Our health care resources, in particular, get overwhelmed, so we have a limited number of ICU beds, ventilators, but more importantly, a limited number of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists," says Smith. "All the people that are needed to respond in an outbreak situation like this"
Saturday, there were long lines of people just trying to get anywhere, as the summer-like population increase is catching many people off guard.
"There are so many more people that there weren't people here the other day why are they here today," said one resident.
"The number of people you come in contact with increases as soon start heading out of your own community, so you're going to go to a gas station you're going to go to a grocery store, you're going to visit or see other people."
But local leaders want seasonal cottager's to understand their movement will be just as limited up here.
"All of our parks and amenities are closed just like everywhere else," said the Bracebridge mayor, "so the rules that you are seeing in your larger urban municipality are the same rules here. So it's not like there's a free pass, and you can do a whole lot more in Muskoka."
No one knows for sure exactly how many people have arrived in Cottage Country this weekend, but Smith says it's clear there are too many, and he's pleading with people who are thinking about coming up to reconsider.