Man. sets up COVID-19 border checkpoints

Manitoba has implemented five checkpoints at border crossings to keep people informed about COVID-19.

The move comes as the province announced its first death, and three more cases, March 27. Further details were not released, however the total number of cases in the province is 39.

Infrastructure minister Ron Schuler said the checkpoints are to ensure Manitobans who have travelled outside the province know they must self-isolate for 14 days, what the state of emergency means for them and other important public health information.

“To be clear, checkpoints will be operational as of 2 p.m. today, staffed by provincial employees,” he said during a March 27 conference call with reporters. “Roadside signage will help direct drivers to the checkpoints and support traffic safety.

“No one will be denied entry into Manitoba at these locations. Our government’s goal is to help flatten the curve.”

Schuler said the sites are similar to construction zones where message boards will display information and a flag person will distribute written information. Manitoba Infrastructure employees are staffing the sites, which will operate 24 hours a day.

The minister said no personal information will be collected.

The checkpoints are located at the Ontario border on the Trans-Canada Highway East, the Saskatchewan border on the Trans-Canada West, Highway 16 west of Russell, Highway 5W west of Roblin and Highway 2 west of Sinclair/Reston/Souris.

These highways have the highest traffic volume, Schuler said.

Schuler informed his counterpart in Saskatchewan March 26 and said he was trying to reach the Ontario minister March 27.

The government also moved to limit public gatherings to no more than 10 people as of March 30. And, it announced a $4.5-million online mental health therapy program would be available for one year.

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program is available at no cost to any Manitoban aged 16 or older.

Premier Brian Pallister said people are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, and this is part of the government’s emergency response.

The program will be available in English and French through the government’s website.

So far in Manitoba, 6,203 tests have been done. The government said patient information such as age, gender and the region where they live will only be provided online once public health investigation has confirmed those details.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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