Cape Breton municipalities scale back services in light of Covid-19
Municipalities closing buildings, offering only essential services
Municipalities, counties and Indigenous communities in Cape Breton have closed public buildings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but essential services remain in place.
On Wednesday, the Nova Scotia government announced there are three confirmed and nine presumptive cases in the province. While the cases are spread throughout the province, none are in northern Nova Scotia.
Municipal officials told CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton they are mostly following the same plan for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Each has said they are following the lead of the federal and provincial governments on precautions to prevent spread.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality closed all municipal-owned buildings Tuesday. City hall remains open, but not to the public.
On Tuesday, Inverness County Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie said all municipal buildings were closed to the public, but staff were still working. She said all emergency and essential services are operating.
The two nursing homes in Inverness County are closed to the public and all libraries and arenas are closed.
MacQuarrie urged people in the largely rural county to stay in touch with other people in their communities, especially the vulnerable.
"Offer your help and stay in touch. We may have a tough uphill climb, together we can flatten that curve," she said.
Victoria County's CAO, Leanne MacEachen, said the courthouse and all municipal buildings are closed. She said a tax sale set to take place on March 24 has been postponed, as well as a volunteers awards dinner scheduled for April.
The March 23 council meeting has been cancelled. Council will decide in the coming days what they plan to do with their April sessions. Essential and emergency services remain open.
MacEachen said they will update their staff, such as those who collect household waste, with training on infections and viruses.
"People sometimes forget about those essential services also and our people that collect those things don't have as much training in health care as people on the actual front lines," she said. "They're going to be the first ones picking up some of those masks from people's homes in those bags, that's kind of scary."
In both the Eskasoni and Membertou First Nations, most operations, other than essential services, have shut down.
Membertou Chief Terry Paul said one of their most important concerns is protecting their elders. He said they have set up a volunteer service to assist elders.
"We want to make sure that they're very comfortable and that they don't have to go out and if they require ready needs, we will deliver those needs to them directly," he said.
Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny said the community has set up a hotline (902-379-5000) for residents to call in and receive support.
"We prepare them and support them along the way, if it's for their mental health or for whatever questions they have, if it's food they need, we make sure that they stay home," he said.
Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, the mayor of Port Hawkesbury, said town staff have made a pandemic preparedness plan. They have also closed all municipal buildings to the public. Essential and emergency services remain in place.
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With files from CBC Cape Breton's Information Morning