Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the provincial government is closing provincial-owned liquor and cannabis stores on March 18 at 2 p.m. in one of the latest measures to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The closures come as the government continues to shut down non-essential services around the province.
In her latest update this afternoon, Morrison also said food banks and pharmacies will remain open.
“We are living and working differently in this province and country than ever before and we all have a responsibility to protect each other.”
While there is still only one case of COVID-19 on the Island, a total of 183 tests have been completed with about 100 still pending.
Currently, tests are sent to Winnipeg, but there are plans to begin initial testing on the Island in the next two weeks, said Morrison.
This would mean negative results would be returned quicker and positive tests would be called presumptive until confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
In the meantime, the province continues to do everything it can to slow the virus and calls on Islanders to do the same, said Morrison.
“I anticipate more cases in the days and weeks ahead, but I think we’re doing all these measures to reduce that number.”
As part of those measures, Morrison called on all businesses to follow the provincial government’s lead in regard to social distancing and shift operations to essential services only.
All hair dressers, barbers, aestheticians and beauty salons are asked to immediately close, along with malls, gym and pools.
Pharmacies have been granted the ability to refill prescriptions already on file—excluding opioids—for those without a primary care prescriber and food banks continue to operate to support individuals and families most in need, said Morrison.
“I’m asking Islanders to support each other in this difficult time, but to do it in a way other than in person-to-person and although we can’t be together in person, that doesn’t mean we can’t connect.”
Simple ways to support those around you might be to drop off groceries for someone who can’t get to the grocery store themselves, or to call someone to check in with them.
COVID-19 phone lines continue to be overwhelmed, but Morrison said they are in the process of looking at an online self-assessment tool to help alleviate some of the pressures on the 811 line.
Resources continue to be added to the government’s online COVID-19 page, including guides on how to talk to children, something Morrison also spoke briefly about.
“We need to speak honestly with our children. Answer their questions, [but] not give them more information than they may need, but be truthful about what they’re asking. Their questions are very real.”
More details to come later online and in our print and e-editions
Liquor and cannabis stores also not essential: stores closing effetive tomorrow March 19, 2 pm— Michael Robar (@MichaelRobar) March 18, 2020