Pine Creek First Nation implements partial lockdown, Dauphin schools to go remote due to COVID-19

Increasing COVID-19 cases have led to a western Manitoba First Nation entering an immediate partial lockdown, while schools in the City of Dauphin are moving to remote learning after the long weekend.

Pine Creek First Nation, located nearly 325 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, north of Dauphin, is closing its band office, health centre, Jordan’s Principle office and day care due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, particularly those linked to the B117 variant of concern, according to a community notice issued Sunday.

The closures are effective immediately and will last for at least two weeks. On June 4, the closures will be reassessed, the notice says.

The community had 15 active cases of COVID-19, including eight variant of concern cases, according to figures released Sunday night. Forty individuals and 13 homes are currently in isolation. 

The community’s gas bar will remain open but will only provide window service. The vaccination clinic will go ahead as planned, the notice says.

Pine Creek First Nation is placing checkpoints at a couple of highway junctions. People working security at those checkpoints will note names and vehicles passing through and those names will be passed along to the First Nation’s health officials, the notice says.

Anyone breaching the health orders can receive a provincial fine, it adds.

Individuals caught breaking public health orders could be fined $1,296. Corporations may be ticketed $5,000. Anyone found not wearing a mask inside a public space may be fined $298.

Repeat offenders or people who have not paid fines on time may be charged double.

The community is not in a full lockdown as of Sunday, but chief and council may implement one later if provincial public health orders are not followed or there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, the notice says.

CBC News has reached out to Pine Creek First Nation Chief Karen Batson, but she did not immediately respond.

Dauphin schools to move to remote learning

Schools in Dauphin, Man., meanwhile, will be moving to remote learning as of Wednesday, according to the Mountain View School Division.

There were seven COVID-19 cases linked to four Dauphin schools in the two weeks prior to May 18, provincial data shows. 

Those schools are already doing remote learning due to those cases, and one school has a cohort currently in self-isolation, said Dan Ward, superintendent of Mountain View School Division, in an email to CBC News.

Placing the rest of the community’s schools in remote learning is a preventative measure, Ward said.

Provincial data shows there are 42 known active COVID-19 cases in Dauphin as of Sunday.

The division felt it was prudent to move to remote learning because the number of cases in the community and that many of the schools are linked to households and “our divisional transportation system,” Ward said.

Schools will have to start remote learning as of Wednesday. Remote learning will happen through at least June 9, the division said in a statement.

Schools already doing remote learning will keep doing so until June 9, the statement said.

The school division expects to return to in-class learning on June 10, Ward said. But if case counts keep rising in the Dauphin area, the division will consult public health and the provincial education ministry before returning to schools.