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Injunction calls for removal of Manitoba blockade set up over COVID 19 concerns

A blockade went up Friday at an entrance to the Keeyask Generating site over worries that incoming employees could be carrying COVID-19. MKO/Facebook

A court injunction is ordering members of a Manitoba First Nation who are worried about the spread of COVID-19 to remove a blockade set up at a hydroelectric construction site.

Tataskweyak Cree Nation band councillor Nathan Neckoway says the blockade went up Friday at an entrance to the Keeyask Generating site over worries that incoming employees could be carrying the virus.

READ MORE: Manitoba Hydro scaling back work, cancelling travel at Keeyask site to fight COVID-19 spread

“Our community is in an extremely vulnerable position at this point,” Neckoway said in a release.

“We are trying to do everything we can to protect the safety and wellness of our citizens. As a sovereign Nation, this is our right.”

The northern area so far has no cases of COVID-19, and Neckoway says bringing workers in from all over the country is a risk they don’t want to take.

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Manitoba Hydro’s Scott Powell says the Crown corporation plans to safely resume regular work rotations while protecting workers and neighbouring communities.

Over 500 employees and contractors have been at the site for eight weeks and Manitoba Hydro says they need to be rotated out.

READ MORE: Manitoba Public Insurance building in Winnipeg to become drive-thru coronavirus testing site

“For their wellbeing, we need to rotate in replacement staff so work can safely continue,” Powell said in a release.

“A blockade shutting down construction on the project will cause delays and cause tens of millions of dollars of unnecessary costs for our customers, plus the loss of employment for hundreds of workers.”

The injunction gives the RCMP authority to remove the blockade.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba travel and gathering restrictions remain in place amid start of provincial reopening' Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba travel and gathering restrictions remain in place amid start of provincial reopening
Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba travel and gathering restrictions remain in place amid start of provincial reopening – Apr 29, 2020

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

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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.

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