New stay-at-home order signals trouble for winter tourism industry in northern Ontario
NORTH BAY -- class="p3" style="margin:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt"> As the province-wide stay-at-home order comes into effect, facilities in northern Ontario say ice fishing hut rentals are way down.
Many of them depend on anglers from southern Ontario who travel to rent out their shacks and stay on the lake and fish.
"It's not a good feeling at all. I took over on January 1st and we couldn't come out right away due to ice fish conditions," explained Reed's Outdoor Ice Fishing Adventures Owner Yves Perrault.
"Then the lockdown was extended."
This comes as new rules and regulations are in effect for locals fishing on the frozen lakes.
Perrault says about 90% of his clients are from southern Ontario. With the government's stay-at-home order only just underway, his business is in trouble.
"Hopefully those COVID numbers do drop at some point and we can get some point of business going and get a little bit of the season going," Perrault said.
The province has new rules and regulations for locals choosing to fish on the frozen lakes. You can only fish with people from your own household and with no more than five people. There is no overnight fishing allowed.
"What's important here is that people have to follow the public health directives and stay at home as much as possible over the next weeks in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19," said OPP Sgt. Carlo Berardi.
The owner of an ice hut can face a $750 fine which would bring the total to $880 after a surcharge for not following public health guidelines.
Police already have had to hand out tickets when someone had over 10 people at an ice hut on Wasi Lake just outside North Bay.
Officers are discouraging families from other areas of the province from travelling to our region for ice fishing due to the stay at home order.
"We're asking the public to comply with the public health and government orders to stay at home," said Berardi.
The remaining days of the stay-at-home notice will only hurt more, according to Perrault.
"It's not a good way to start a business that's for sure."
The province is allowing ice hut rentals to continue for day use only.