Physical distancing and disinfecting: Manitoba updates sandbagging guidelines ahead of spring melt

By | April 3, 2020

As Manitoba readies for a possible flood of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, it’s also preparing for a flood of more usual proportions — rising water. 

And with that, some tips on how to practise physical distancing while sandbagging. 

“This spring, we are potentially facing the unique challenge of fighting a high water event while at the same time slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said in a news release on Friday.  

“We are rising to that challenge and have developed a creative and innovative solution to ensure sandbagging will be undertaken while keeping Manitobans safe.‎”

The province released updated guidelines Friday on three different methods of producing sandbags and dikes.

Each requires a minimum of six feet or two metres between individual workers who are filling sandbags or laying them into a dike. 

They also call for: 

  • Availability of adequate hand-washing and washroom facilities.
  • Regular disinfecting of surfaces.
  • Alteration to work methods.
  • Use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • Assurance sick workers self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Preparation for a number of workers to be sick at the same time.

At provincial worksites, the province said someone may be specifically assigned to clean common surfaces, tools and facilities.  

Officials predicted — before this week’s snow and rain in southern Manitoba — that the province would avoid major flooding, but said contingency plans are in place if the spring thaw requires high-water management like sandbagging.

The City of Winnipeg said this week that 57 properties may be at risk of flooding and could require dikes.

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