The latest developments on COVID-19 in Fort St. John

This is a running list of COVID-19 news concerning the city and North Peace region. Please check back regularly.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is causing an outbreak of respiratory infections, and the World Health Organization has declared it to be a pandemic.

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There were 23 reported cases in the Northern Health region as of April 6, up two over the weekend, and their precise whereabouts are not being reported by B.C. public health officials.

There are now 1,266 cases and 39 deaths in B.C. There are 140 patients in hospital, 72 of them in critical or high acuity care, including four in northern B.C. Another 783 people in the province have fully recovered.

Across the border, there are now 89 cases and three deaths in Alberta's northern health zone.

Here are the latest developments for April 6:

  • Fort St. John city council voted Monday to rescind this year's water rate increases, and waive late payment penalties on utility bills to help residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Truckers looking for a bathroom pit stop and a fresh cup of coffee on their way through Fort St. John during the COVID-19 pandemic can find more than a dozen businesses open to them along the Alaska Highway.

  • There were 10 Site C workers in self-isolation quarantine, and 969 workers reported at the camp.

  • Despite some promising signs that new cases of COVID-19 may be slowing, Henry warned that current restrictions on social activities, work and movement must be maintained.

  • The Yukon government says officers were stationed on Monday at five checkpoints from British Columbia and one from the Northwest Territories.

  • New infections and deaths continued to be reported across Canada on Monday, with 16,500 total cases and 321 deaths reported by the afternoon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians can still expect weeks or months of distancing measures.

  • The federal government will soon change rules to let hundreds of thousands hard-hit workers access pandemic-related emergency relief, as federal systems began processing about 1,000 applications a minute for the new benefit.

  • Fort St. John Rotarians will hold a drive-by food drive for the Salvation Army on April 11 from 12 to 4 p.m. at the back of the Safeway parking lot. There will be trucks with bins, and residents will be able to pull up and drop their donations into the bins with no contact. 

  • Good Friday is April 10, Easter Sunday is April 12 — and Fort St. John churches have adapted on the fly to ensure thay they can still deliver Easter services. Check out our Fort St. John guide to a virtual Easter.

  • The Government of Canada has launched the application portal for the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis. MP Bob Zimmer gives readers and residents a primer on how to access this benefit.

Here are the latest developments for April 4:

Here are the latest developments for April 3:

Here are the latest developments for April 2:

Here are the latest developments for April 1:

  • A worker at the LNG Canada site has tested positive for COVID-19, the company has confirmed. The company notified workers in a March 28 letter, saying the individual returned to their home in the region to self-isolate upon experiencing mild symptoms a week earlier.

  • Three more Site C workers have gone into quarantine, bringing the total to 7 of 935 workers now reported at the camp.

  • Air Canada will suspend all operations in Fort St. John after today. The temporary suspension will last from April 2 until April 30.

  • MP Bob Zimmer says he will be donating an automatic and legislated increase in his salary to a local church.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic will require intensive care units and ventilators in the province’s hospitals, but an investigation has found that British Columbians are receiving unclear or inadequate information to let them know the local availability of those resources.

  • The province is rolling out BC Hydro bill relief to residents, small businesses and large industrial operations. Residential customers will be eligible for a three-month credit; Small businesses that have closed their doors will not have to pay their hydro bills starting today through to the end of June; Large industrial customers will have the option to defer 50% of their bills over the next three months.

  • The province is allocating $5 million to help sports organizations struggling at this time. 

  • Wildfire season begins today, and the BC Wildfire Service is developing protocols to deal with COVID-19 while prepping for the upcoming season.

  • The Ministry of Education has struck a deal with the Zoom videoconferencing company to enable teachers to communicate remotely with their students while in-class learning is suspended.

  • Unemployed during COVID-19? Here's how to navigate federal programs.

  • MLA Dan Davies has put together this list of some available supports and needs.

Here are the latest developments for March 31:

Here are the latest developments for March 30:

Here are the latest developments for March 28:

  • Fort St. John city council will consider Monday a range of relief measures proposed for residents and businesses. Chief among them are cancelling the approved 1.25% tax rate hike, and deferring tax and utility payments and waiving late fees.

  • Dr. Bonnie Henry reported Saturday no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Health region, but there are two patients currently hospitalized.

  • Northern Health's capacity to treat patients will peter out more quickly than elsewhere in B.C. if the pandemic reaches the levels seen in the harder-hit regions of the world.

  • Former Northern Health Chief Medical Officer David Bowering has written this open letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry calling for the release of COVID-19 case locations and the shut down of industrial work camps: "Telling Northerners that we have 12 positive tests from our region (as of today) without providing the location or putative source is to tell them (us) nothing. This is dangerous."

  • Fort St. John city council will vote Monday whether to move to weekly garbage collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are concerns the city's recycling stream may become even more contaminated with garbage.

  • As of noon Monday, boarding of domestic flights and trains will be denied to people showing any symptoms related to COVID-19.

Here are the latest developments for March 27:

  • B.C.'s provincial health officer say she sees glimmers of hope in bending the COVID-19 curve downward but says it won't go down for a while yet. And all it would take is for one church group that flouted prohibitions on large gatherings, one plane returning from abroad with an infected person or one remote work camp with an infection outbreak to have seed the virus somewhere, where it could explode.

  • The University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George is one of 17 hospitals in B.C. that have been designated as primary COVID-19 sites, which would be the first tasked with taking care of coronavirus patients in the event that the number of cases surges.

  • The B.C. government has released this update on the province's latest epidemiological modelling of COVID-19 and its hospital mobilization plan.

  • School District 60 has released its Continuity of Learning Information for Families.

  • As of March 27, there were still 12 Site C workers in self-isolation at the work camp, and zero confirmed cases. There were 13 fewer workers staying in camp, down to 851.

  • Fort St. John doctors and nurses who will be on the front lines treating local patients with the coronavirus disease COVID-19 are being fitted for face masks to ensure they don't contract the virus.

  • The Halfway River First Nation has entered a full lock down, citing the high risk of COVID-19 "spreading like wildfire."

  • It's too early to say how Fort St. John will deploy its bylaw officers in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. But if you're still planning to hold that wedding, or just got back from the tropics and aren't staying at home in quarantine, officers may soon be tracking you down.

  • B.C. released a list of essential services on Thursday, with many delivery services on the list. “The need for our work is high, and it’s great to be able to work in this time, but it’s hard to keep staff willing to work,” said Paul Sheikh, who runs Time Courier Services.

  • The federal government is upping its proposed wage subsidy for businesses to 75%. A broad swath of business and labour groups had criticized the original proposal of a 10% subsidy for falling well short of what was needed to avoid mass layoffs.

  • Here is a detailed list of emergency benefits available to those who have been affected by COVID-19, and how to access them.

Here are the latest developments for March 26:

  • The Halfway River First Nation has entered a full lock down. Residents will only be allowed to leave the community for health reasons, and those who otherwise disobey will not be allowed to re-enter unless agreeing to mandatory 14 days of self-isolation.

  • Fort St. John has opened its emergency operations centre, and city councillors will meet weekly through April and the COVID-19 pandemic. All city buildings are now closed to the public, and city services still continue.

  • As of March 26, there were still 12 Site C workers in self-isolation at the work camp, and zero confirmed cases. There were 11 fewer workers staying in camp, down to 864.

  • The province has suspended all local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, and announced sweeping measures Thursday to prevent the hoarding and resale of food items and medical goods effective immediately.

  • B.C. has released a list of essential services.

  • The province has placed open burning restrictions in some areas of northeast B.C. to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, but controlled burns for Site C will continue.

  • Confusion reigns over what makes a homeowner eligible for an emergency mortgage deferral, how the program works, whether interest is payable and whether deferring payments will affect credit scores. Here's what you need to know about deferring mortgage payments.

  • The coronavirus couldn’t cancel birthday celebrations for Seth Ryan of Fort St. John on Wednesday. He couldn't have a party, family and friends gave him a parade instead.

  • Local gyms dealing with the pandemic in different ways. Some are closed, some are still open.

Here are the latest developments for March 25:

Here are the latest developments for March 24:

  • The B.C. border with the Northwest Territories is now closed after the territories reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 21. The border closed as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, and only emergency and enforcement vehicles can cross.

  • The City of Fort St. John has declared a state of local emergency: "These are unprecedented times as we find ourselves with limited tools at our disposal to be nimble and respond to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 crisis," Mayor Lori Ackerman said.

  • The eighth season of Big Brother Canada has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rianne Swanson, 29, an operating room nurse from Chetwynd, was still active on the show prior to the airing of Wednesday's episode.

  • The operator of a work lodge north of Fort McMurray says a guest who fell ill last week does not have COVID-19.

  • Six municipalities in the Alberta Peace say the biggest COVID-19 risk facing the region is the return of travellers from outside Canada. There are currently 20 confirmed cases in Alberta's northern health zone, with the third confirmed case in the Grande Prairie region reported today.

  • The Fort St. John Hospital Foundation has postponed this year's Bluey Day fundraiser, and is encouraging folks to take part in online fundraising for local cancer supports and services.

  • Construction of Woodfibre LNG has been delayedThis is in part due to work stoppages caused by COVID-19, including the shut down of a fabrication yard in China that was making product for the facility in Squamish.

  • BC Hydro has now begun reporting daily updates on COVID-19 at Site C. As of March 24, there were 12 workers in self-isolation at the work camp, and zero confirmed cases.

  • Tighter restrictions are being put in place at the Fort St. John Hospital. The Birthing Centre and Peace Villa are both now locked 24-7, with restricted visits only. Doors to the ER will be locked overnight, while the hospital's main doors will be locked on weekends. All visitors will be required to meet with screeners at the door.

  • The City of Fort St. John will consider declaring a state of local emergency today. Chief among the city's concerns are the Site C work camp, where there are currently 16 workers in self-isolation with flu-like symptoms, and concern about the potential for sick workers to be moved into town.

  • MP Bob Zimmer has typed up this helpful FAQ for residents looking for resources.

Here are the latest developments for March 23:

  • More than 400 people in northern B.C. have been tested for COVID-19 since March 13, Northern Health says. The health authority says more than 400 test swabs from residents taken between March 13 to 21 were sent to provincial labs for testing.

  • BC Hydro says it will begin giving regular updates to the public and the Peace River Regional District about its monitoring for COVID-19 at Site C. There have been 700 workers home since a scale-back in construction was announced March 18, and more workers are expected to be sent home this week. There were 940 people in camp on March 23.

  • Premier John Horgan revealed a $5 billion action plan to help British Columbians survive the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Horgan said $2.8 billion will be spent on people and services, with the remaining $2.2 billion targeted towards businesses.

  • Dr Carolyn Jones has written this open letter on behalf of the Medical Staff Association, Fort St John Hospital and Hudsons Hope Medical Centre: "Stay home unless absolutely necessary. No dinner parties. No shopping. No sports, not even outside. Instead, have coffee with a friend online."

  • MP Bob Zimmer won't be in Ottawa when the House of Commons meets March 24 to introduce urgent economic measures as part of an $82-billion response to support Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be 32 MPs in the chamber to follow public health guidelines about social distancing, and split among the parties based on the number of seats they hold.

  • A Lower Mainland man who travelled through the Vancouver and Prince George airports multiple times believes he may have exposed area residents to COVID-19.

  • WestJet says it will fly once daily from Fort St. John to Vancouver, and twice daily to Calgary, from March 22 to April 21. 

  • Central Mountain Air says it is suspending all scheduled flights on Tuesdays and from Friday to Sunday, effective March 28. In Fort St. John, the airline will fly to Prince George at 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

  • Air Canada has not announced any route suspensions for Fort St. John.

  • Performing Arts BC has cancelled its 2020 provincials. The Peace River North Festival Association says it will have more information on the festival in Fort St. John in the coming days.

  • Have concerns about COVID-19 and your pet? Dogs and cats can potentially be fomites for the virus. What on Earth is a fomite? Dr. Sydney Routley explains.

  • WorkBC Northeast says it will continue services virtually, either by phone, text, or email. There is no service disruption and the full range of services and supports are still being provided, it said.

  • The province says it is keeping Service BC centres open. Core programs and services that will continue to be available include: Income assistance and disability assistance; Residential tenancy; BC Services Card; Drivers' licensing; Affordable Child Care Benefit; Medical Services Plan; and Forest-worker support programs

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pointing to an impending bailout package as a way to help renters, though new research suggests hundreds of thousands of households may be in dire financial straits before the federal money arrives.

Here are the latest developments for March 22:

  • While the new COVID-19 guidelines allow construction to continue, they could make it more difficult for major projects like the Site C dam and LNG Canada projects to comply, given the sheer number of the work forces.

  • Sixteen Site C workers are in quarantine with flu-like symptoms. The workers are staying in a 30-room dormitory, with four addional similar-sized dorms available for workers who need to isolate themselves from others.

  • The B.C.-Northwest Territories border is now closed after the territories reported its first case on March 21. The patient travelled to B.C. and Alberta, and developed mild symptoms three days after returning to Yellowknife.

  • The Fort St. John Farmers Market says it is working with health officials to open this season as a safe access point for fresh food.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked for the House of Commons to return sitting March 24 to introduce urgent economic measures as part of his government’s $82-billion response to support Canadians. 

Here are the latest developements for March 21:

  • Airlines are beginning to cancel flights to Fort St. John. Airport officials say they anticipate more to come.

  • Financial columnist Brad Brain on coronavirus and your investments: "If you have a long-term time frame, and you own high quality investments, then this is not a time to panic or mourn. This is a time of potential opportunity."

  • The Liard Hot Springs are closed to ensure public health and safety.

  • No one living in BC Housing buildings will be evicted because they can’t pay rent. The province is also working on a moratorium on evictions for renters who aren’t in social housing.

  • BC Bus North is still rolling along northern B.C. highways but measures have been put in place. Those include additional disinfecting of buses and facilities, the use of commercial-grade sterilization foggers on the overnight cleaning of the buses, and commercial-grade air purifiers at all ticket offices.

Here are the latest developments for March 20:

  • Two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Grande Prairie. There are now 17 confirmed cases in Alberta's northern health zone, including four in the High Prairie area and three in the Slave Lake area.

  • An incorrect social media remark by MP Bob Zimmer sent the District of Tumbler Ridge's rumour mill cranking - but District of Tumbler and Northern Health officials note there is no positive case of COVID-19 in the district at this time.

  • Dr. Bonnie Henry says all restaurants must move to takeout and delivery only.

  • The PRRD offices are now closed to the public, including its offices in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, as well as the Charlie Lake Fire Hall and warehouse.

  • Gun and ammunition sales are up this week in Fort St. John and across the country. 

  • All courts in northern B.C. will be suspended effective March 25. Prince George provincial court will act as a "hub court" and Hearings will be limited to criminal matters involving in-custody accused and urgent family, child custody, and civil matters.

  • Regarding rent payments: Li-Car says rent is still expected for now, but may change. Office hours are restricted, and tenants are asked to pay by mail or money order. Sterling Management says rent are still due. The office closed March 20, but tenants can pay by mail, money order, or use the office's mail slot. Other companies could not be immediately reached.

  • Families and residents all around town have begun placing craft hearts in their windows in a show of community support and unity. 

  • Northern Health is restricting eligibility for passengers using the Northern Health Connections bus service starting March 29.

  • The province says provincial parks remain open, but services and facilities are suspended for most parks, including all those in the Peace region. Campgrounds will be closed at least until April 30.

  • BC Transit says it will suspend bus fares for 30 days as part of its response to COVID-19.

  • The District of Taylor says council meetings will proceed as planned, and front counter services are open. Social distancing is in place. District council will be reviewing the budget in the coming weeks, and seeing how it can reduce costs and lower the tax load for residents.

  • In Hudson's Hope, the District Office is closed for two weeks; RCMP front desk is closed; the Library is closed for two weeks; the Museum is closed for two weeks; and the Community market is cancelled until next month

  • The PRRD has closed all community facilities to the public.

Public Health

  • An incorrect social media remark by MP Bob Zimmer sent the District of Tumbler Ridge's rumour mill cranking - but District of Tumbler and Northern Health officials note there is no positive case of COVID-19 in the district at this time.

  • Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman is returned home Thursday from a vacation to Mexico, and will spend the next two weeks in isolation.

  • Passengers on a WestJet flight to Grande Prairie on March 12 may have been at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Click here to see if you were on any of the at-risk flights.

  • The Fort St. John Alliance Church says a family that attended its church service on Sunday has since gone into self-isolation. The family attended the first service on March 15, and "is exhibiting symptoms that could indicate COVID 19 and additional symptoms that could indicate the flu. These are not confirmed cases."

  • Accent Dental says all appointments are cancelled until further notice. The dental clinic says six employees including all dentists were at the Pacific Dental Conference on March 7, and has been instructed by the Minister of Health to immediately self-isolate until March 21. Dr. Henry Ma attended the conference last week and is unable to perform any emergency dental treatment until at least then. Those with pain are advised to call the clinic or visit the ER.

  • The College of Dental Hygienists of BC says all elective and non-essential dental hygiene services are to be suspended immediately. The FSJ Dental Clinic is closed until March 23; Alaska Avenue Dental is only taking emergencies; North Peace Dental is closed until March 30; and Blooming Smiles Dental Hygiene has been closed since last week and will be until March 30. Northern Lights Dental is closed until March 25.  

  • Northern Health has placed visitor restrictions at its facilities and outpatient clinics. Hospitals will undertake only urgent and emergency procedures and will postpone all non-urgent scheduled surgeries.

  • The Fort St John Hospital Foundation office is closed, and can still be reached by phone 250.793.0998, or email fsjhf@northernhealth.ca.

  • The Ministry of Health has launched an online self-assessment tool to help residents determine whether they may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.

  • Northern Health has launched a public information phone line to answer questions and concerns about COVID-19 from northern B.C. residents. The health authority says it hopes to reduce demand on ERs and other health services, and says the service will be staffed by doctors and nurses who can provide virtual screening and assessments: 1-844-645-7811.

  • The Fort St. John Medical Clinic and the North Peace Primary Clinic have requested patients who have recently travelled outside of Canada or who are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath) to not come directly into the clinics. Those patients are advised to phone directly for information about seeing their doctor.

Schools

  • All K-12 classes have been suspended until further notice. School District 60 says it is finalizing plans to ensure student learning continues this spring after the province suspended in-class instruction for K-12 students. Superintendent Stephen Petrucci says full details will be released next week.

  •  Education Rob Fleming says all students will receive final marks, and every student eligible to graduate Grade 12 this year will graduate.

  • Northern Lights College says it is not aware of a single case of COVID-19 affecting the college, and will move as much programming to online delivery as possible.

  • The University of Northern BC says the last day of face-to-face classes will be March 18. The semester of studies and exams will still be completed, the university said.

  • The Northern B.C. Regional Science Fair scheduled April 7 at North Peace Secondary has been cancelled. "We understand all of the work that has been put into preparing for the fair by the students, sponsor teachers, mentors, parents and the committee, but prefer to err on the side of caution in regards to everyone's health," organizers said. All registration fees that have been paid to date will be returned.

  • The school district has asked all students to report any international travel over the spring break and to self-isolate for two weeks upon their return to Canada. All school district field trips to Europe have been postponed, and there will be no travel to countries with a Level 2 or 3 public health travel risk.

  • One North Peace Secondary student was tested for the virus after returning from a field trip to Japan. Results were negative.

City & Region

  • BC Transit says it will suspend bus fares for 30 days as part of its response to COVID-19.

  • In Hudson's Hope, the District Office is closed for two weeks; RCMP front desk is closed; the Library is closed for two weeks; the Museum is closed for two weeks; and the Community market is cancelled until next month

  • The City of Fort St. John says the March 23 council meeting will proceed as planned, though some measures are being taken to limit public attendance amid COVID-19 health orders. The agenda includes borrowing authorization for the estimated $51.4-million new RCMP detachment, tender awards for the first phase of the Woodlawn Cemetery expansion, and the rescheduling of this year's Community Awards.

  • The District of Taylor says council meetings will proceed as planned, and front counter services are open. Social distancing is in place. District council will be reviewing the budget in the coming weeks, and seeing how it can reduce costs and lower the tax load for residents.

  • The PRRD has closed all community facilities to the public.

  • The Taylor library is closed effectively immediately March 19.

  • Peace Island Park says it is delaying its opening until May 31.

  • Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman returned home Thursday from a vacation to Mexico, and will spend the next two weeks in isolation.

  • All Fort St. John recreation facilities are closed effective March 18. These closures affect the Pomeroy Sport Centre, including Visitor Centre, North Peace Arena, Kids Arena Fieldhouse and the previously announced closure of the North Peace Leisure Pool.

  • All District of Taylor recreation facilities are closed effective March 17. These closures include the Taylor Curling Rink, the Taylor Arena, and the Taylor Community Hall. The District is looking at options to keep the Lone Wolf Golf Club and Peace Island Park operational in the summer.

  • Mayor Lori Ackerman has released an update on the first of regular calls with Health Minister Adrian Dix, Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry: "Because these cases did NOT originate within any northern community itself, under the law, Northern Health won't identify or release the location of these individuals for their privacy/protection as they are technically not a threat to public health, and to not incite panic / speculation / rumors in any one community."

  • The Peace River Regional District has cancelled the Rural Area Budgets Committee meeting scheduled March 19, and the Area B Roundtable Meeting scheduled April 6 in Buick. A number of other meetings in Moberly Lake, McLeod, Farmington, and Tomslake have also been cancelled.

  • The Fort St. John RCMP has suspended front counter services, including police information checks and civil fingerprinting; the Fort St. John fire department has suspended in-person services and on-site fire inspections.

  • The North Peace Cultural Centre says it will close effective March 18. This includes its childcare programs. "As a public space, it is our responsibility to try to protect our community as best as we can," Executive Director Baptiste Marcere said. "I fully understand that this decision will impact families, however, since kids are mostly asymptomatic, closing the preschool and out of school care is the best solution to protect our community."

  • The City says Bouncing Beans and Tumble Time at the Kids Fieldhouse have been cancelled indefinitely. Spring Break Camp, scheduled to run March 23 - 27, has been cancelled.

  • The Fort St. John Public Library says it is closed effective immediately. The closure will last until at least March 31. Due dates have been extended until May 1 and no late fees will accrue.

  • The North Peace Leisure Pool is closed and all programs and swimming lessons have been cancelled.

  • The District of Taylor says children with symptoms of undiagnosed pain, acute cold or fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing may not attend its Spring Break camp March 16 to 20.

Community/Services

  • The North Peace Pregnancy Care Clinic is closed to public, but residents can still call its 24-hour hotline for assistance: 250-262-1280.

  • Demand is rising but donations are falling as the Salvation Army food bank braces for the local fallout from COVID-19.

  • The North Peace Housting Society says outside visitors, other than family, close friends, and support workers, are not to enter its buildings. All social activities, including carolling, hairdressing, and the income tax clinic are cancelled. "Even though the COVID-19 threat remains low in this area, we are trying to keep our seniors healthy by limiting exposure to all pathogens," the Society said. Increased measures are in place throughout the buildings and kitchen to ensure products and protocols dealing with the prevention of infectious disease are followed. "This will enable them to better fight any illness that may pose a threat in the future."

  • The Salvation Army thrift store will be closed to the public for at least two weeks. Donations are still being accepted at the back door. Those experiencing crisis will still have access to the store during a Family Services appointment.

  • The Salvation Army food bank is distributing pre-made food bags based on family size. No drop-in seating or food consumption onsite. The Community Meal at The Northern Centre of Hope will be converting to bagged lunches to-go starting March 18. Community Drop-in is closed at The Northern Centre of Hope. Registered guests of the Emergency Shelter will not be impacted by any change.

  • A new group called Caremongering Fort St. John has launched on Facebook. The group is a landing page for people in need during the crisis and for people looking to give a helping hand. "If anything this virus as much as it will distance us physically should be bringing us together morally and spiritually," organizers say.

  • Canada Post remains open, but is advising those with symptoms to stay home.

  • B.C. is reducing all court operations to help stop the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. Some criminal and family case matters were already being adjourned in Fort St. John courts Monday morning. It’s expected more matters will be adjourned. Jury selection has also been cancelled everywhere in B.C. until the end of May.

  • The Women's Resource Society allowing just five people in its building at a time, and there will be no drop-in after 12 p.m. The society will be open between 12 to 3 for drop-offs and appointments only.

  • The North Peace Child Care Resource & Referral has cancelled all programming and put a freeze on its toy lending library until April 5. That includes the March 20 and April 3 Play Days, March 26 Storytelling, and positive discipline courses from March 31 to May 12. 

  • MP Bob Zimmer says he will limit travel and remain in the riding after the House of Commons decided to shut down for five weeks to ensure MPs do not contribute to the spread.

  • B.C.'s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is asking residents to take extra care for the elderly amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Mackenzie says that while most who will contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, it can more seriously affect the elderly. Mackenzie is also asking the public to contact their elderly friends, family, and neighbours who might need some extra help. "It could be anything from helping a senior get some groceries, taking out their garbage, bringing over a cooked meal or bringing them up to speed on the latest COVID-19 recommendations from our provincial health officer," she said.

Business

  • Wet’suwet’en title agreement meetings may be postponed due to COVID-19 prevention measures and a recent death within the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

  • Shoppers Drug Mart is dedicating its first shopping hour to those most at risk. All Shoppers stores will designate the first hour of shopping to “those who need assistance or consideration" starting this week. This includes seniors, individuals with underlying health conditions and people living with disabilities.

  • No Frills says it will open one hour earlier every Tuesday and Thursday to allow seniors and people living with disabilities to do their shopping, effective March 19.

  • LNG Canada is scaling back its workforce in Kitimat by half, the Northern Sentinel reports. The company had already been restricting international travel for staff and contractors, and says it will now be reducing the number of fly-in rotational workers. Seasonal work will continue under additional precautions, but the company says it will cut the workforce further if necessary.

  • The movie theatre is closed. Landmark Cinemas says it is closing all its theatres until further notice. The theatre's last showtime Monday in Fort St. John was Vin Diesel's latest, Bloodshot.

  • The province says the March 18 oil and gas land sale is postponed until April 22 due to travel restrictions affecting bid delivery. The province says it is evaluating whether it will postpone future sale dates as well as alternatives options for bid delivery.

  • The Fort St. John Chamber has cancelled all events effective immediately and until further notice. That includes its planned business roundtable meetings to assess the local economic impacts of COVID-19. Contact the Chamber for more details about any refunds.

  • The Fort St. John Trade Show has been postponed. A new date is being scheduled for the fall.

Site C

  • BC Hydro says it is scaling down construction at Site C. Work to achieve river diversion this fall remains a priority, BC Hydro said. Work will also continue on Highway 29 realignments, transmission line construction, and reservoir clearing.

  • There have been no confirmed cases at the work camp or construction site. 

  • BC Hydro says it has been monitoring global COVID-19 developments since January, and measures are in place to limit its potential spread at the construction site and work camp.

  • That includes restrictions on non-essential employee travel and the postponement of non-essential site tours, meetings, and on-site training. The camp gymnasium and theatre have also been closed, and self-serve dining stations have been eliminated. 

  • The BC Building Trades Council is calling for work to be scaled down at major construction projects in the province, including Site C.

Arts & Culture

  • The museum is closed to the public effective immediately March 19 and until further notice. "We will be working hard from home to catalogue artefacts; apply for grants; develop future events, exhibits, and programs; and share our history through social media (including some exciting new initiatives during this time of social distancing)." The museum can still be reached by phone or email.

  • The NPCC says its Bright Nights in June event scheduled for June 12 to 14 will be rescheduled to later in the summer if needed. "We are looking forward to seeing our community celebrate together again!"

  • . Tickets will be refunded and we will look to bring Minglewood to Fort St. John later this year.

  • All events scheduled at the Lido have been postponed until after Easter, including the Alaska Highway News concert with the Matt Minglewood band on April 1. Contact the Lido for refunds.

  • Peace Gallery North has postponed its April 3 opening of Frances Obie's exhibit, "Sky High". 

  • The Fort St. John Professional Fire Fighters Association says it is putting its Annual Charity Ball on hold. "We are still a ways out from the original date of May 2 and we hope the situation will change but time will tell," the Association said. A final decision will be made by April 2.

  • The North Peace Cultural Centre has cancelled the Stage North production of "Tough" (March 26 to 28), as well as the April 9 travelling production of "Spidey". The centre says it is taking extra measures to sanitize and disinfect its facility, including its out-of-school and preschool classrooms. 

  • Naomi Shore has cancelled her Western Canadian Tour, calling it the responsible thing to do. Shore was to hit the road for three weeks starting with a show in Valleyview on March 20, and with stops in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Calgary, among others.

  • The Peace River North Performing Arts Festival scheduled for April 18 to 26 is to go as planned. However, organizers say there may be restrictions, and the festival will take steps to comply with any provincial advisories and procedures in place at that time.

  • The Encana Events Centre has cancelled or postponed all gatherings until further notice. 

Sports & Rec

  • The Fort St. John Curling Club has cancelled this week's scheduled curling nights and is closing for the season. The club was set to have the men's league windup on Wednesday, March 18, and the mixed league windup on Thursday, March 19. Non-curling related events in the building that have been cancelled for March and April will be rescheduled for a later date. 

  • The Fort St. John Petroleum Association has cancelled this year's Oilmen's Hockey Tournament scheduled for April 1 to 4. Fees and donations will be refunded. "We want to thank all of the members and sponsors for their continued support," the Association said.

  • Fort St. John Lacrosse announced it will be keeping registration for the 2020 season open until March 31, and are pushing the start of the season back to April 7. Team practices were initially set to start March 31. There will be no late registration fees, and full refunds will be given if the association is unable to go ahead with a season.

  • The Fort St. John Slow Pitch Society has postponed its AGM scheduled for March 16. The current executive will remain in their roles until the meeting can be rescheduled and an election for the 2020 executive can take place.

  • The North West Junior Hockey League finals are cancelled. The Fort St. John Huskies were set to face off March 13 against the North Peace Navigators, and were the odds-on favourites to win their third-straight championship. The Huskies had their best season in 20 years in 2019-20.

  • The North Peace Hockey League Finals between the Dawson Creek Canucks and the Grande Prairie Athletics has been postponed, with hopes to reschedule in April. Dawson Creek leads the series 3-2.

  • Hockey Canada and B.C. Hockey have cancelled all remaining provincial hockey championships, including the Midget AA championships where the NEBC Trackers were set to defend their provincial title on March 16, as well as the Bantam and Midget Girls AA Championships (the Northeast B.C. Predators were set to compete in these tournaments).

  • The Fort St. John Minor Hockey Association has closed operations for the year. The annual awards ceremony, scheduled for April 8, has been cancelled as well.

  • All of the remaining Alberta Soccer Provincial Championship Tournaments, including those that the Northern Strikers teams were set to compete in this weekend, have been cancelled. That has ended the indoor soccer season.

  • Wrestling Canada Lutte has postponed the 2020 U17/U19 Canadian Championships that were set to take place in Edmonton, April 3 to 5. A pair of Fort St. John wrestlers were set to make their national wrestling debut at the event.

  • The 2020 Canadian Boxing Championships, scheduled for May 12 to 17 in Montreal, have been suspended by Boxing Canada. Several Fivestar Boxing Academy fighters had qualified for the event.

  • The annual Kids Kin Curl Jam-Can event scheduled for March 14 has been cancelled. Curling club leagues will wrap-up as scheduled next week.

  • North Peace Gymnastics has closed all programs, except Junior Olympics and Interclub, to the public until further notice.

  • All Special Olympics events have been temporarily suspended.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold. They include cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing.

The best way to prevent potential transmission is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, avoid contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick.

This is a developing story.

Send your COVID-19 updates to: editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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