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Nova Scotia announces rent-deferral program for small businesses, iPads for seniors

Nova Scotia small businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic are getting help from the provincial government.

At a press briefing Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil announced a three-month rent-deferral program for small business operators who are forced to close under the Public Health order.

Nova Scotia announces rent-deferral program for small businesses, iPads for seniors
Nova Scotia announces rent-deferral program for small businesses, iPads for seniors

Landlords will be asked to sign a rent-deferral agreement, McNeil said, and government will guarantee up to $5,000 a month if that business goes under.

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“The hope here is that these businesses will be able to come back even stronger,” McNeil said. “But if not, we want to reduce the risk on the landlord.”

McNeil says the hope is to have the commercial landlord work with its tenants to arrange new terms on how the money can be paid back.

“If this business fails and can’t afford that, we will make sure we cover the three months we’ve asked you to defer,” McNeil said. “We believe this provides some security for the commercial landlord.”

READ MORE: St. Patrick’s Day party could be linked to new Nova Scotia COVID-19 case

McNeil also announced Friday that restaurants left doing only takeout and delivery can now include alcohol with purchases.

17 new cases, bringing total to 90

The province announced that 17 new cases of COVID-19 were identified on Thursday, bringing Nova Scotia’s total to 90.

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The province says “most” of the new cases are connected to travel or a known case.

The 90 individuals affected range in age from under 10 to their mid-70s. Health officials say two are currently in hospital and three individuals have now recovered.

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Cases have been identified in all parts of the province.

Nova Scotia biologists working around the clock to test COVID-19
Nova Scotia biologists working around the clock to test COVID-19

On Thursday, Strang said a St. Patrick’s Day party with about 50 people may have been where someone contracted COVID-19 earlier this month.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) has since issued an advisory of a potential public exposure to COVID-19 on March 14 at the Lake Echo Community Centre.

Strangs says none of the new cases are connected to the St. Patrick’s Day gathering and that all attendees have been contacted and are being tested.

Public health is still not able to confirm a link to community spread.

“It is imperative that anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia self-isolate for 14 days and for everyone to adhere to the five-person social gathering limit,” Strang said. “As always, any Nova Scotian who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.”

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia sees largest jump in COVID-19 cases since virus arrived in the province

To date, Nova Scotia has 3,649 negative test results and 90 confirmed cases.

Potential exposure in Antigonish, New Glasgow

The NSHA issued a separate advisory of a potential public exposure on Friday for two different locations.

One occurred on March 11 at Highland Eye Care in New Glasgow, while the other happened the next day at the Charles V. Keating Millenium Centre in Antigonish, where the Bantam AAA Provincial Hockey Championship was being held.

People who were present at those locations on the specified dates are asked to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

iPads for seniors

McNeil concluded Friday’s announcement with a special announcement for seniors living in long-term care homes.

“We want to make it easier for the elders to stay in touch, so that’s why I’m announcing today, the purchase of iPads,” he said. “Up to 800 tablets will begin to arrive at long-term care facilities throughout the month of April.”

“Our seniors will not only be able to see their grandchildren, but they will be able to hear them laugh, see the crafts they’ve been making, and get a virtual hug.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.