HALIFAX -- A self-imposed state of emergency of Nova Scotia's Eskasoni First Nation has been working well so far, says the band's chief.

On Monday, Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny and his council declared a state of emergency within the band of 4500 members.

Denny says, so far, people are responding well to what he calls a ‘community self-isolation’, which he says was imposed because a large percentage of the community are at risk for COVID-19, due to overcrowding, food insecurity, and higher rates of pre-existing chronic health conditions.

“Don’t panic, don’t be scared we are doing this to protect you and our community; This is a difficult time that calls for difficult decisions and we will get through this as long as we work together and do everything in our power to stop this sickness in its tracks,” said Denny, who is still in self-isolation after having visited with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Checkpoints were set up at the entry points of Eskasoni, with nobody allowed in or out, with the exception of emergencies, essential services and medical appointments.

Any member of Eskasoni who travels outside of Cape Breton must self-isolate for 14 days.

There is also a strict ‘stay-at-home’ order being imposed from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., prohibiting social events and gatherings. Businesses must close during the prohibited hours as well.

Denny says that Eskasoni has hired extra security guards to assist the RCMP in securing the checkpoints and patrol the community.

“We work with RCMP in Eskasoni, and they are assisting as well, and we also have a security force here at Eskasoni called and a good 20-30 members and all of them are working together to keep the curfew and monitor our check-ins, people going in and out of the community,” said Denny.

Denny also says additional jobs have been created in managing the Eskasoni COVID-19 hotline, where people could access information on the COVID-19 virus.

Suppliers delivering essential goods are asked to contact the band office.