Major layoffs, flight reductions hit West Wind Aviation due to COVID-19 pandemic

 An airline that serves some of Saskatchewan’s northernmost communities has laid off about half of its employees and drastically reduced flights because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 150 of West Wind Aviation’s 300 employees have been laid off temporarily or are working fewer hours, said Stephen Smith, the company’s acting president.

Robillard has flown with West Wind for work in the past but said travel is not necessary right now.

“It’s strongly advised that we all stay home and we’re fine with that,” he said.

The company’s decision to reduce flights could help keep the virus out of northern communities, he said.

“Leadership with the northern communities has taken it upon themselves to protect the health of all the northerners,” he said, noting there are some newly implemented limitations on incoming traffic.

“We are all in this together up in the north.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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