More support for workers, daycares in day's 2nd briefing on COVID-19 in P.E.I.
$200 allowance announced for Islanders working with reduced hours because of coronavirus
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison joined Premier Dennis King and provincial cabinet ministers to announce additional supports for Island workers and child-care centres in Wednesday's second press briefing.
Earlier in the day, she asked the Island's non-essential businesses to close.
"We are in a state of public emergency. These decisions are not reached easily and we realize the effects they have on each and every Islander," King said in response to the new measures, at the 5 p.m. briefing.
Morrison clarified the difference between essential and non-essential services and activities.
"It's about the social distancing, how we practise that and how we refrain from congregating," she said.
Non-essential vs. essential activities, businesses
Morrison said grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, hardware stores and auto-repair shops are essential, and can remain open. Morrison also said that Cavendish Farms, which processes frozen potato products on P.E.I., is considered to be essential as it is a part of the supply chain for food.
At the day's first press briefing, Morrison said government-run cannabis and liquor stores will be closed at 2 p.m. Thursday. This does not apply to private liquor stores, including the Island's breweries.
Morrison said she was disappointed to see Islanders lined up outside of liquor stores on Wednesday afternoon, and announced government is looking at alternative ways for Islanders to access liquor and cannabis products
"I'm disappointed in Islanders' response in the last three hours," she said.
"We have talked about social distancing, we have talked about staying home unless it is essential and that appears to have been ignored."
She said the province is working to make these products available to Islanders through alternate means and additional details are to come Thursday.
No one will be left behind.— Matthew MacKay
"We may not get it all right. We'll try to do the best we can as we go through a very difficult time," she said.
She emphasized the goal is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island.
P.E.I.'s Minister of Education Brad Trivers announced supports for licensed daycare operators and said staff will be eligible for employment insurance. He added that grants and subsidies will continue to be available for licensed daycares.
The province also announced that emergency child-care services will be available to essential workers who have no other options during this time.
Essential workers are asked to fill out a form and detail their child-care needs.
"We want to make sure Islanders know that no one will be left behind," said P.E.I. Minister of Tourism and Economic Development Matthew MacKay.
MacKay announced a temporary $200 per week allowance for people whose hours have been cut but continue to work and are not self-employed. He promised more details to come Thursday.
The allowance is in addition to the province's move to defer all scheduled loan payments for clients of Finance PEI, Island Investment Development Inc. and the P.E.I. Century Fund for the next three months.
I'm hopeful that all the results are negative.— Dr. Heather Morrison
The province also announced $4.5 million to community development corporations across P.E.I., which will be used to finance small businesses and entrepreneurs on the Island.
King said while the province has earmarked $25 million, the province is still figuring out how the federal funding will be spent in the coming days.
Morrison said P.E.I. still has one confirmed case of COVID-19.
She said the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg told her results on P.E.I.'s pending tests will be available Wednesday evening.
"I'm hopeful that all the results are negative."
Morrison said an update on the results will be made available Thursday morning.
More visitor restrictions
Health PEI has also announced it is restricting all visitors to its facilities in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Exceptions will apply to palliative patients, intensive care, neonatal intensive care, obstetric and pediatric units.
In these units, one designated visitor will be permitted, who is a member of the patient's immediate family or who is identified as their care partner within the hospital.
All long-term care facilities continue to fully restrict visitors.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.
How can I protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.