Earlier today the Government of Ontario, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, advised all Ontarians to stay home as much as possible with trips outside the home limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work
“The number of daily cases continue to rise putting our hospitals and long-term care homes at risk,” said Premier Ford. “We need to stop the spread of this deadly virus. That’s why, on the advice of Dr. Williams and other health experts, we are taking the difficult but necessary decision to shutdown the province and ask people to stay home. Nothing is more important right now than the health and safety of all Ontarians.” (Government of Ontario News Release, December 21, 2020)
Given that physical activity is an important part of staying healthy, today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario stated that “trails servicing snowmobiles will be allowed to remain open.” This means that OFSC trails can open in accordance with all public health guidelines.
Being allowed to remain open allows the OFSC to proceed with trail and grooming operations, however snowmobilers are strongly encouraged to stay home and if they do ride, they need to be mindful of several other important factors related to the pandemic.
* Today’s announcement reinforced “that Ontarians should stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.” This means that during the shutdown, and when trails are in the Orange, Red or Grey Zones, trail riding will be local in keeping with public health restrictions. To facilitate this, the OFSC will implement Flex Trail options for local riding as and where appropriate. Check the Interactive Trail Guide before riding. Flex Trail options include trails within a public health region being available only for local residents.
* As the announcement also said: “Many businesses throughout the province will be faced with restrictions throughout the shutdown, including restaurants and bars, which will once again be limited to only take-out and delivery operations.” This means that snowmobilers may not have normal access to food services along the trails and should plan accordingly, although hotels and motels are permitted to operate.
* It is likely that all unattended buildings and washrooms (including outhouses and warm up shelters) on the trails will be closed with no access to riders. This is because public health measures demand that such structures “are subject to rigorous cleaning and sanitization protocols” which simply cannot be achieved frequently enough by volunteers, and thereby increase the risk of exposure and will likely close.
* OFSC trails connecting to another province (Quebec, Manitoba) or state (Michigan, Minnesota) will remain closed until further notice.
* The OFSC strongly encourages all snowmobilers follow current public health measures and practice our Ride Smart 2021 common sense approach to trail riding, including: Plan Ahead. Be Aware. Mask Up. Clean Often. Spread Out.
Even under these conditions, none of us can let our guard down. Only by continuing to demonstrate our willingness to be responsible riders and volunteers, and to cooperate with public health measures, can we protect each other and communities across Ontario.
The OFSC will continue to monitor the situation and communicate changes and status updates to permit holders regularly through our website, Interactive Trail Guide, Facebook page, weekly newsletter and Go Snowmobiling App alerts.
The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.
For questions or to schedule a media interview with the OFSC, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 705-739-7669