Newfoundland preparing COVID-19 update after declaring public health emergency

One day after declaring a public health emergency from COVID-19, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is set to deliver another pandemic planning update.

The press conference, scheduled for 3 p.m. NST, will be livestreamed on the province’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages, led by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald.

As it stands, there are three presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province, all of which are in the Labrador-Grenfell health district.

Provincial health officials are currently in the process of contact-tracing for each of the impacted individuals and testing those in close proximity.

On Wednesday, the N.L. government ordered new social distancing measures as Health Minister John Haggie declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency.

Public gatherings of more than 50 are banned and facilities that would otherwise accommodate such numbers — including gyms, theatres, arenas and bars must all shut down.

Takeout is still allowed and restaurants can continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Beginning Saturday, liquor stores across the province will also close, although measures to allow phone and email orders are currently being developed.

Premier Dwight Ball has confirmed that despite the pandemic, its upcoming Liberal leadership election will continue on schedule.

The Liberal party says the in-person convention scheduled for May 8 and 9 in St. John’s will be cancelled, but the campaign and convention, including all voting, will happen online and by phone.

The May vote is set to determine who will be the next leader of the provincial Liberals and the province after Premier Dwight Ball announced his resignation last month.

Ball has said he would step down once a new party leader is chosen.

With files from The Canadian Press

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