Ontario’s new COVID restrictions to impact ice hut operators

Photo courtesy of Algoma Country

As many are aware, Wednesday, January 5th saw Ontario head back into another wave of COVID restrictions and it looks as though ice hut operators will once again feel the effects.

Unlike in previous times, ice fishing huts were explicitly mentioned in this round of restrictions with Ontario’s latest release stating that:

“Short-term rentals must operate under the following conditions:

  • only open to those in need of housing (does not apply to hotels, motels, lodges, resorts and other shared rental accommodation, including student residences.)
  • ice fishing huts permitted with restrictions

The restriction that this section refers to is the new gathering limits, restricting outdoor gatherings to 10 people and indoor gatherings to 5.

According to OFAH, this translates into personal ice huts being limited to the five-person restriction and rental ice huts being limited to members of the same household (or the same household and an individual who lives alone).

These restrictions are set to be in place until at least January 26th, however, as we have surely learned by now, nothing is set in stone.

“Last year and the year previously,” said John Blanchard, a Temagami area ice hut operator in an interview with Fish’n Canada, “we were hugely impacted as we cancelled the majority of our rentals.”

Despite the challenges of previous years, however, John is still optimistic that the season can continue as planned.

“This pandemic has been frustrating, to say the least, and has hurt many businesses in the north,” says John. “However, there has also been an overwhelming amount of inquiries.”

John also ensured us that hut operators are doing everything they can to make sure anglers are able to enjoy the great fishing opportunities we have in this province and are taking all precautions necessary to make sure guests have a safe and fun trip.

For more stories like this, check out Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review, our weekly recap of all things relevant to the Canadian outdoorsman.