Regina mayor disappointed province rescinded local restrictions on stores, gatherings

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said he was disappointed when he heard the province planned on rescinding state of emergency restrictions the city had put in place.

The city ordered restrictions Friday. Fougere said the province told him it was rescinding the order Monday.

"We're all doing this in the spirit of working together and trying to do what we can do best for Regina residents," Fougere said. "I knew they were uncomfortable but that doesn't mean you rescind it. 

The city wanted to close all non-essential retail stores — everything but grocery stores, pharmacies and medical clinics — due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The province previously said this was not a needed step at this time.

The city also wanted to limit gatherings to no more than five people, while the province's limit is 25. 

The Government of Saskatchewan confirmed on Monday that it had rescinded the City of Regina's declaration. It previously said this was because clarity is needed for residents and because the province is basing its recommendations on the advice of medical health officials. 

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, recommended no gatherings of more than 25 people, but said personally that he would not enter a room with more than five people. 

Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

Fougere said he had spoken to the province's Government Relations Minister Lori Carr and  Premier Scott Moe before city council made its proclamation. He said the province made it clear it would not want the city to proceed but Fougere hoped it would help with restrictions. 

"The province has said they will be tightening up their regulations and we urge them to do it sooner rather than later — getting ahead of the curve," Fougere said.

"Any day now we may have a record of public transmission and that is a game changer."

Kirk Fraser/CBC

Fougere said he plans to bring up his concerns with Carr the next time they speak. 

"I will use every opportunity we can to ask them to please move forward more quickly or more aggressively to lock the city down," he said. "We really want to see greater lockdown, more restrictions on public activity —  because while it does hurt now it'll hopefully be a shorter period of time in the future."

City councillor starts online petition

Joel Murray, the councillor for Regina's Ward 6, started an online petition asking the province to not take away the city's stricter measures. As of Monday morning, the petition had more than 900 signatures. 

"To be honest, as a council, not once did we think that they would [overrule us] unless they were going to come forward with more stringent measures," Murray said. 

"I really don't think it makes sense to overrule one that's being more cautious at this time," he said. "The time to act is right now and I believe we need to move as quickly as we can."