Sask. announces financial support for businesses

Saskatchewan has announced a financial support plan for businesses and employees affected by COVID-19, along with more restrictions.

Twenty-six people have now tested positive for the virus; all but two are self-isolating at home.

The six new cases identified March 20 include a person in their 20s who had travelled from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Regina; a person in their 20s who was tested in Regina after travelling to the United States; a person in their 50s tested in Regina after travel to Jordan; two people in their 60s tested in Prince Albert after travel from Arizona and a person in their 60s tested in Regina but for whom no other information was provided.

Premier Scott Moe signed an order today requiring all orders by the government and chief medical health officer to be followed and enforced by police.

He said he was concerned about mostly anecdotal reports that people returning from international travel were not self-isolating.

This is now mandatory.

Effective immediately, all public gatherings are limited to 25 people in one room unless a two-metre separation is possible. All bars, lounges and similar facilities are ordered closed, but take-out is allowed with distancing.

Effective Monday, March 23, restaurants and all other food service facilities are closed except for take-out and delivery. All personal service businesses such as hairdressers and barbers are to close.

Also Monday, all dental, optometrist, chiropractic, massage therapists and podiatry clinics are closed.

Day care facilities will be allowed to stay open with a maximum of eight children unless they have the ability to have eight per room.

The financial support program will provide $450 per week, for a two-week maximum, for those who are in self-isolation because they have the virus, have been in contact with an infected person or have been required to self-isolate because of international travel. They also must not be eligible for compensation for an employer, have private insurance for a disruption like this and not be covered by other programs like the federal EI program.

This will cost the province about $10 million and mostly benefit self-employed residents.

Saskatchewan businesses can defer PST remittance for the next three months. That will be about $750 million that the government will have to wait to collect.

Students will have a six-month moratorium on loan repayments to dovetail with the federal announcement earlier this week. This will cost the province about $4 million.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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