One premier’s war cry for citizens to respect physical distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic has gone viral.
The call to “stay the blazes home” came on Friday during one of Nova Scotia’s daily press conferences.
Premier Stephen McNeil spoke forcefully from a table accompanied by Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
READ MORE: ‘Stay the blazes home,’ McNeil warns as Nova Scotia COVID-19 cases surpass 200
As he has done for every day since the province declared a state of emergency last month, McNeil urged Nova Scotian’s to respect physical distancing and remain indoors unless absolutely necessary.
“The virus will find you. Then it finds your loved ones. Then it finds your neighbourhoods…”
“Then we have community spread,” McNeil said, appearing to barely contain his anger within his 6’7” frame.
McNeil was addressing a new Google report of location data collected from its users that showed a 95 per cent increase at the province’s parks from Feb. 16 to March 29 in comparison to a five-week period earlier this year.
“Then everyone is putting pressure on public health to solve it, and our health-care system to deal with it when all we have to do is stay the blazes home,” the premier said.
It’s a phrase that has captured the imaginations of Nova Scotians, many of whom remain cooped up at home and looking for something to break them out of the monotony.
Within a few hours of the remark being made, the phrase was trending on Twitter, eventually reaching the No. 1 spot in Canada.
Part of the popularity was the immediate memeification of the phrase, with social media users putting their editing skills to use to create new and inventive ways to capture the phrase.
It is now even beginning to appear on T-shirts, mugs and socks as Nova Scotians clamour for a physical item that has captured the attention of a frustrated populace.
Liz Mac, an artist and illustrator in Dartmouth, N.S., is one of the people working to fill that need.
“People were saying, ‘oh, I want that on a T-shirt. I want this on a T-shirt’ and me being a broke artist, I saw an opportunity to give people what they want,” Mac said in a phone interview on Saturday.
Within a few hours of her creating her site, she had dozens of orders.
Mac said that the profit margins are fairly small on the items so she’s unlikely to make any money on the venture but she said it’s worth it.
“You could tell that the premier is very angry with… a reckless few and it’s you know, as close as he can get to literally swearing at us without actually swearing.”
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Adam Faber, a musician originally from Nova Scotia, compared McNeil’s attempt to shame the province into compliance as the premier being the province’s “angry dad.”
Faber is known to make parody songs on his accordion and he said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“You know people are just down for a laugh presently and they’re all stuck to their phones anyway,” said Faber.
“It’s kind of a perfect storm.”
Faber’s song has since been shared hundreds of times online and he credits the unique East Coast culture for the phrase’s popularity.
“I think it’s just the perfect way to encapsulate how we deal as east coasters at a time of stress,” Faber said.
My Home Apparel, a company based out of Truro and Moncton, N.B., said they sold over $6,000 worth of their new “stay the blazes home” T-shirt in less than an hour.
The company says 100 per cent of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to Feed Nova Scotia, the QEII Foundation’s COVID-19 response fund and Shelter Nova Scotia.
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.