Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, gave an update today, March 27, on efforts to help Nova Scotians dealing with COVID-19.
"It is important that we all do our part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following the rules. Get groceries or go to the pharmacy but not in groups. Walk to exercise, not to socialize and as much as you can, stay at home but stay in touch with others," said Premier McNeil. "We are also focused today on supporting our small businesses and our most vulnerable citizens and the measures we are taking today will not be the last."
Measures announced today:
-- government is encouraging retail and commercial landlords to defer lease payments for the next three months for businesses that had to close directly due to the public health order. Landlords who participate by granting such businesses a three month deferral and register by April 3 will be able to claim losses of up to $5,000 per month, if the renting business does not continue operating. Landlords are not permitted to change locks or seize property of businesses who cannot pay rent, if the business closed directly because of COVID-19 public health orders
-- Department of Health and Wellness will distribute up to 800 iPads across the province to long-term care homes so residents can connect with family and friends; the tablets will begin arriving at facilities in April.
-- restaurants will be allowed to include alcohol purchases with takeout and delivery orders as long as the alcohol cost is not more than three times the value of food ordered, effective March 30.
-- an amendment to Dr. Strang's health protection order allows veterinarians to provide virtual care, prescription refills and in-patient urgent or emergencies services.
Measures announced to help vulnerable Nova Scotians by the Department of Community Services are:
-- partnering with Telus to provide 100 phones and calling plans to most-vulnerable clients who have no other means of communication and who may be self-isolated and alone at a cost of $50,000 for the phones and $5,000 per month for the calling plans
-- investing $200,000 to support transition houses as well as other organizations that serve vulnerable women and children
-- investing $55,000 to support 12 smaller community food banks
-- extending the hours of its toll-free line for income assistance supports soon, including weekends
"I've been encouraged by the way most Nova Scotians have responded - with caring, compassion, community-building and common sense," said Dr. Strang. "I have also been troubled by reports of people harassing those who test positive. This is when people need the love and support of their community and neighbours the most. So, I am asking you to be kind. Be caring. Be considerate. Be there. Be a friend."
Seventeen new cases were identified yesterday. Most are connected to travel or a known case. To date, Nova Scotia has 3,649 negative test results and 90 confirmed cases.
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. As always, any Nova Scotian who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better. If they are concerned about COVID-19 they can go to https://811.novascotia.ca/ and use the online assessment tool. Anyone referred to an assessment site by 811 will be tested.
Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .
-- testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
-- Nova Scotia's Health Protection Act gives the chief medical officer of health the authority to give advice to protect public health and decrease risk to public health presented by communicable diseases such as COVID-19
-- a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and remains in effect until noon, April 5
-- under the state of emergency government can control or prohibit assembly as well as travel to and from areas. It can also coordinate commerce activity and emergency responders
-- a new virus like COVID-19 can cause fear. Nova Scotians are encouraged to support each other and use technology to stay connected
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus
Government of Canada toll-free information line 1-833-784-4397
The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll free).
Kids Help Phone is available 24/7, by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free).