WINNIPEG -- Manitoba Hydro announced plans to temporarily scale back work on the Keeyask Project, as well as suspend travel in and out of the site due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A release from Hydro sent Thursday afternoon said the decision was made to help protect the health and safety of workers and residents of nearby communities from the introduction and spread of the virus.

Manitoba Hydro says the temporary reduction of personnel will be completed by the end of the day on Saturday. The scaled-back work and suspension of travel is expected to last between four and eight weeks.

Hydro's announcement comes after First Nations in the area called for the site to shut down amid the pandemic. 

On Wednesday, Manitoba Hydro told CTV News that five employees at the Keeyask station were placed in isolation and referred for "further examination" as a precautionary measure against the virus.

READ MORE: First Nations call for Manitoba Hydro Keeyask Generating Station's closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic

“These are extraordinary times and we are making this decision in the interest of public health and the best interests of our customers, employees, contractors, and neighbouring

communities,” said Jay Grewal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Manitoba Hydro, in a statement.

“These measures are temporary in nature and will be re-assessed based on guidance we receive from Manitoba Health officials in a few weeks.”

Approximately 600 staff members, including supervisors, construction staff and support staff, will remain at the site. Manitoba Hydro says they will focus on achieving the in-service date for the Keeyask Project’s first two generating units.

All staff remaining on site are following a pandemic plan, including getting assessed by a nurse practitioner onsite if they’re showing symptoms of illness.

If workers need further assessment off-site, they will be isolated in special rooms and transferred off-site as soon as possible following Manitoba Health protocols.

In addition, workers will be performing enhanced cleaning of the site and eating only take-out meals from the dining hall. Gym classes and other activities have also been suspended to practice social distancing.