Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect that only daycares that stay open for the next three weeks will see their operating grant filled. Global News was given incorrect information.
Manitoba is declaring a state of emergency.
“We’re hoping for the best, obviously, but we’re preparing for something less than that,” said Premier Brian Pallister Friday.
“We’re in this together. We need one another.”
Pallister said leading economists say the province is leading the way to weather the pandemic.
The emergency measures are in effect for the next 30 days. They give the province the power to limit public gatherings of 50 or more people, including churches and places of worship, gatherings, family events such as weddings and funerals.
Grocery stores, shopping centres, pharmacies, public transportation and gas stations must keep customers separated by at least one to two metres.
While restaurants and movie theatres can stay open, they can’t operate with more than 50 people and keeping the same social distance.
Bingo halls, gaming events, wellness centres, gyms, fitness centres and athletic clubs are to be immediately closed.
Those who defy this ban, fines could be issued up to $50,000 for a person and up to six months in jail.
The fine rises for businesses to up to $500,000.
“I encourage Manitobans as they come across a situation where people are not observing the social distancing rules, I’d like you to go on the Internet and tell everybody not to shop there. Don’t go there. Don’t honor that kind of behavior.”
“In fact, it’s a dishonor. It’s unsafe. And I would encourage Manitobans to be defenders of the safety of all of us.”
Manitoba’s presumed and confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus stand at 17. One person has been hospitalized.
Funding for child care
Families minister Heather Stefanson said health care workers will see more than $27.6 million to help them find child care.
Stefanson said there are three steps to this plan.
- Daycares that remain open will continue to be funded for the next three weeks
- Daycares can operate with up to 16 children, with health care workers’ children as the priority.
- Manitoba child care workers can access up to $3,000 to provide care in their home.
To make sure dedicated child-care spaces are available and prioritized for health-care and other essential front-line workers the government said it will:
- Establish a new $18-million grant program to help early childhood educators affected by the suspension of child-care services access immediate funds to start offering child-care services at their homes or in the community
- Continue to provide licensed child-care centres with their full operating grants and subsidies, totaling up to $7.6 million provincewide, to provide care for up to 16 children with first priority given to children of health-care and other essential workers
- Invest $2 million to create a trust that will provide capital grants to child-care providers to ensure safe, quality care
- Encourage all centres to reimburse prepaid fees to parents for child care they can no longer access during this difficult time
“Today’s announcement allows all licensed child care centres that were asked to suspend services as of the end of the day to continue to operate, if they are willing to limit the number of children in their care to under 16 and give priority to essential front-line workers,” said a spokesperson for the province.
“We are working with school divisions to ensure that child care facilities in school are supported to stay open.
“If centres remain open under those circumstances, they would continue to receive their full operating grants and subsidies from the province. The decision on whether or not to operate will be made by centres’ boards of directors.”
Details on how early childhood educators can apply for grant money is available here.
Essential, front-line workers who need child-care options should call 204-945-0776 or (toll-free) 1-888-213-4754, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions about the new funding programs available to child-care centres and early childhood educators should be sent to email@example.com.
Changes to healthcare
As far as healthcare, elective surgeries will be suspended starting on Monday to allow for the COVID-19 response. Cancer, trauma and other urgent surgeries will not be delayed.
“In this special need, this time that we’re in, we’re hoping that they will step up with their 16 spaces,” said Stefanson.
“We want our day cares to be healthy and robust,” said Pallister.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s top doc, said pharmacists are being told they can only supply one month of prescriptions at any time to help prevent hoarding of medications.
More than 3,550 people have now been tested. On Thursday, 422 were tested. One person remains in hospital in stable condition.
For the next four weeks, CancerCare Manitoba is closing their clinic at Seven Oaks and instead those clinic patients will be asked to go to Victoria General Hospital.
Health Links received 2,400 calls on Wednesday, with an average wait time of 75 minutes. The online self-assessment tool saw 30,000 hits Thursday, with 186,000 visits since Tuesday. The french version of the tool is also now live.
The province also released an online list of recent flights that had confirmed cases of Manitobans with COVID-19 aboard who were symptomatic at the time of travel.
Health officials say passengers in affected seats are at risk of exposure.
Those who were sitting in affected seats are asked to self-isolate for 14-days following the flight and monitor for symptoms.
Others who were on the flights but not in affected seats are being told to self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate should they develop.
Have questions for the province? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may ask it at the daily presser.
Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk for Canadians is low.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent hand washing and coughing into your sleeve — if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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