Inverness releases pandemic plan, Canada Post changes practices, RCMP ready for COVID-19

STRAIT AREA: In the midst of a State of Emergency in Nova Scotia, a local municipality, the country’s mail carrier and the national police force are making plans.

The Municipality of the County of Inverness Coronavirus released its COVID-19 pandemic plan to guide council and staff in the continued operation of municipal services and protecting public health and safety.

The Port Hood administrative building and the infrastructure and emergency services facility are closed to the public.

The Kenloch Transfer Station will be closed to the public as of March 25.

All recreation and cultural programs offered through the municipality will be cancelled and rescheduled, if possible.

Foyer Père Fiset, Inverary Manor, Port Hood Small Options and Koster Huis are closed to visitors.

All non-essential municipal meetings are cancelled, and staff will be working from home when possible.

“We’re continuing to work closely with provincial and local public health officials,” said Warden Betty Ann MacQuarrie. “Our priority is to keep local government, including Inverness County Homes Corporation operations, functioning in a safe and responsible manner. The enactment of the pandemic plan will guide our decisions as we go forward.”

The municipality has also developed a COVID-19 information package for residents.

“The handout sums up many important issues related to COVID-19,” said Inverness CAO Keith MacDonald. “It will give our residents a resource to use if they have questions or need to contact someone at the local or provincial level about their particular situation.”

The package contains a variety of information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including government contact information, best practices for hygiene and recommendations on caring for individuals who may have contracted the virus.

The information package is available at various grocery stores and services stations across the county, as well as on the municipality’s dedicated COVID-19 Web page, which also provides additional news and resources related to the pandemic.

The municipality temporarily closed the Strathlorne Recycling Facility until April 1. An operational update on the facility will be provided to the public before the end of the day on April 1.

There will therefore be no curbside recycling pickup (blue bags) on all routes until April 1.

Canada Post has initiated the changes to delivery operations and the retail postal network.

Many post offices will reduce hours of service, opening one hour later and closing one hour earlier to clean, restock and provide some relief to employees. For the first hour of each day, those who are at a higher risk (the elderly or people with compromised immune systems), will be offered priority.

Canada Post is asking waiting customers to please space themselves two metres (six feet) apart. In smaller offices, they will limit the number of customers and Canada Post is working on signage and clear barriers for counters.

Although they continue to accept cash, Canada Post is encouraging customers to pay by using the tap function on their debit or credit cards.

Canada Post has suspended its 15-day hold policy and parcels left at the post-office for pickup will not be returned-to-sender until further notice.

To eliminate customer interactions at the door, reduce post office customer traffic and support social and physical distancing, delivery employees will knock or ring, choose the safest location available to leave the item and then depart for the next address. This change eliminates the need for signatures at the door and greatly reduces the number of parcels sent to post offices for pick-up.

Items that require proof of age, ID or customs payments will be sent directly from depots to a retail post office for pick-up with no restrictions on when customers can pick up the item. Customers will receive a delivery notice card in their mail letting them know which post office is holding their item for pickup.

Canada Post has suspended on On-time Delivery Guarantees for all parcel services, until further notice. 

For more on the changes at Canada Post, visit: https://www.canadapost.ca/cpc/en.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia RCMP wants the public to know it will continue its operations.

“As an emergency response agency, we have existing protocols and procedures that deal with emergency situations, and that includes pandemics,” Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, Commanding Officer, Nova Scotia RCMP said. “Our Division Emergency Operations Centre is active and is monitoring and overseeing the coordination of Nova Scotia RCMP resources. This includes monitoring our business continuity plans, assessing our essential service levels and equipment, and forwarding updates on our safety and prevention measures.”