RESIDENTS of the RM of Piney and Buffalo Point First Nation are once again allowed to cross the U.S. border to receive medical care without having to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to Manitoba.

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RESIDENTS of the RM of Piney and Buffalo Point First Nation are once again allowed to cross the U.S. border to receive medical care without having to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to Manitoba.

A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed recently that a quarantine exemption for residents of Piney and Buffalo Point was added to the national mandatory isolation order on March 19.

Those residents who must leave Canada to receive essential medical services in the U.S. can do so provided they carry "written evidence from a licensed health-care practitioner in the foreign country indicating services or treatments were provided in that country."

If necessary, one person can also accompany the individual who receives treatment.

Residents of border towns get their medical care in Warroad and Roseau, which are in Minnesota.

A couple in the town of Sprague questions why prescription refills aren’t considered essential.

Donna Bartinski said she and her husband, Mike, welcome the new exemption but wish trips to refill prescriptions were deemed essential.

"I phoned Customs, we can’t go over for our prescriptions, because that’s (considered) secondary," Bartinski explained.

"I can’t see how a prescription is secondary when you have to take your medication. It doesn’t make too much sense to me."

The Bartinskis quarantined twice in the winter, once after a doctor’s checkup and once more after refilling their prescriptions. From now on, they’ll have to do both at the same time to avoid another two-week shut-in.

"It’s no fun being quarantined. You feel like a prisoner in your own home," Bartinski said.

Their next planned medical trip is in early May. Bartinski said they will try to see their doctor and get their prescriptions filled at the same time. They were thankful for their American pharmacist, who provides 90-day refills during the pandemic.

"They’re pretty good at that because they’re aware of what’s going on," Bartinski said. The Bartinskis received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a March 23 pop-up clinic in Sprague, but haven’t been told when to expect their second dose, unlike their children just across the border in Warroad, who were to receive theirs last week.

The Minnesota government says 48 per cent of Roseau County residents aged 16 and over had received at least one dose of vaccine by April 13.

"They’re really on the ball there," Bartinski said.

The couple may ask if they can get their second doses while in the U.S.

"Even if I have to pay for it, we would just like to get it, because we don’t know when we’re getting our second one."

In the meantime, they are only leaving home for gas and groceries.

"We’re trying to follow all the rules and regulations," Bartinski said.

— Steinbach Carillon