Coronavirus: Manitoba expands ‘safe at home’ program, launches new ad campaign

The Manitoba government is expanding funding for a program aimed at giving those stuck at home during COVID-19 something to do. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

The Manitoba government is expanding a program designed to give those stuck at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic something to do.

Launched in December, the Safe at Home program provides funding to local groups to put together programming that people can watch or use online, including fitness classes, arts programming, mental health courses, and cooking programs.

Read more: $3 million rapid-grant program aimed at Manitobans’ mental, physical health

On Monday Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox said the province is adding $2 million to the program’s original $3-million budget.

“This pandemic is far from over, which is why it is so important that we continue to offer ways for Manitobans to stay ‘safe at home’” she said in a release.

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“We are proud to expand this innovative and creative initiative to offer over 300 virtual programs to run throughout the winter months to keep Manitobans busy, active, entertained and, most importantly, safe.”

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Cox said Safe at Home grants are available to organizations, municipalities, local businesses and individual artists providing free, inclusive programming.

As well as the additional funding, Cox said the province is also launching a new phase of an advertising campaign started in November intended to encourage Manitobans to keep following public health advice around COVID-19.

“As we look to gradually loosen restrictions and allow Manitobans to get back to doing some of the things they love and have missed, it is crucial that we continue to follow the fundamentals and avoid activities that are known to cause the greatest risk — close-contact settings, crowded places and closed spaces,” said Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin.

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“The Safe at Home Manitoba programs provide the opportunity for Manitobans of all ages to stay active, healthy and engaged, while protecting themselves, their loved ones and their community.”

Read more: Manitoba reports 2 additional coronavirus deaths, 97 new cases

The province says it’s invested more than $440,000 in the advertising campaign, which includes a mix of digital and social media ads, as well as radio and television commercials. The campaign is scheduled to run until the end of March.

More information on Safe at Home programming is available on the province’s website.

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

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.

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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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.