Islanders affected by COVID-19 measures offered financial relief

·3 min read
Islanders affected by COVID-19 measures offered financial relief
People line up in their vehicles for testing in Slemon Park, just outside of Summerside, after cases with no known link to travel were announced last Thursday. Five new cases were confirmed Sunday, but there were no additional cases as of Monday afternoon.  (Submitted by Bill Schurman - image credit)
People line up in their vehicles for testing in Slemon Park, just outside of Summerside, after cases with no known link to travel were announced last Thursday. Five new cases were confirmed Sunday, but there were no additional cases as of Monday afternoon. (Submitted by Bill Schurman - image credit)

Islanders who have lost their incomes or had their hours reduced by 12 hours a week between Feb. 28 and March 14 because of new COVID-19 restrictions are eligible for $500 in help from the provincial government, a P.E.I. cabinet minister said Monday.

Matthew MacKay, the minister of economic growth, tourism and culture, said the King government is relaunching the P.E.I.'s Emergency Payment for Workers as of Tuesday.

He said the payment will be provided in addition to any government assistance such as employment insurance.

On Sunday, the province announced a 72-hour circuit breaker that left non-essential businesses closed or limited, meant no in-room dining at restaurants, shut down recreational facilities, and reduced the capacity at retail stores still allowed to serve the public.

MacKay said the province is also relaunching $100 grocery gift cards for workers laid off from Feb. 28 to March 14, and rolling out a $1-million fund for Islanders who must take time off work due to illness and don't have paid sick leave.

"We want to make sure people can put food on their table," MacKay said.

MacKay said the province will be meeting with the business community as well, about support the owners of affected companies might need in order to stay afloat.

Information on the new assistance will available on the provincial government website.

No new cases yet

After a weekend that saw 11 new COVID-19 cases confirmed, Islanders got good news Monday afternoon: No new cases have been identified since Sunday evening.

"A total of 6,632 COVID-19 tests were completed on Saturday and Sunday," said a provincial government release issued just after 3 p.m. AT. "This includes 2,250 results from the Three Oaks Clinic in Summerside, which was set up for targeted testing of young people in the area.

"All results so far are negative, and an additional 1,600 results are still pending."

P.E.I. Chief of Nursing Marion Dowling later told CBC News: Compass that about 3,000 tests had been collected as of late afternoon Monday, with many more expected at clinics scheduled to stay open until 8 p.m.

Since there are no new cases, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison was not holding a media briefing Monday, the news release said. Her regular weekly briefing will take place on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. AT, the usual time.

The news comes on the first day of a three-day period of enhanced public health measures intended to slow transmission of the coronavirus after outbreaks in Summerside and Charlottetown late last week.

"There are currently 18 active cases of COVID-19 in the province; all are self-isolating and being followed daily by public health," said Monday's news release. "Over 190 people have been identified as close contacts of the cases."

P.E.I. continues to have no deaths or hospitalizations due to COVID-19, but there are 18 active cases thanks to two recent outbreaks.
P.E.I. continues to have no deaths or hospitalizations due to COVID-19, but there are 18 active cases thanks to two recent outbreaks.

Officials feared the virus that causes COVID-19 might be spreading among asymptomatic teens and young adults, so Premier Dennis King and Morrison's office brought in what they called "Alert Level Red measures with modifications."

Schools across P.E.I. have shut, non-essential businesses are closed to the public, and private and organized gatherings are being strongly discouraged.

Meanwhile, testing is being ramped up at several locations, especially for those who visited sites of potential public exposure in the last two weeks.

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