Muscowpetung FN using curfew, lockdown to fight COVID variant strains

·2 min read

As COVID-19 variant strains continue surging in southern Saskatchewan, with 21 variant infections in the area’s First Nations, Muscowpetung Saulteaux Nation is hoping some recently enacted safety measures continue to keep its numbers low.

“We've been pretty fortunate in the community not to have high numbers,” Chief Melissa Tavita said of the first three months of 2021.

From Jan. 1 to the last day of March, the First Nation has recorded 18 viral infections. Three cases are currently active and 15 people have recovered; eight people were self-isolating, as of Wednesday. Tavita said approximately 400 Muscowpetung members live on the reserve.

The community, northeast of Regina in the Qu’Appelle Valley area, is now into its third week of a curfew for all members living on reserve.

Muscowpetung leadership reintroduced the curfew on March 19. It’s to stay in place until Monday, when Tavita and her colleagues will review the community’s infection numbers to assess if it’s still needed.

For now the curfew means the reserve is locked down from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Nobody is allowed in or out of the First Nation unless for night-shift employment or a medical emergency.

“If you're going to be partying or just going for no reason, then you won't be allowed into the community until the curfew lifts,” she said.

Likewise Tavita said there’s a community-wide lockdown in effect during the day. It allows people to only leave Muscowpetung for groceries, to pick up prescriptions or for medical appointments.

The First Nation is also still using security checkpoints on roads leading into the community.

“Our security staff stop and check to make sure whoever is coming into our reserve is a part of our community, that they know which house they're going to,” Tavita said, adding non-members need the band’s approval to enter.

The chief commended her members for being diligent through the first three months of the year in following COVID-related safety measures.

As the province heads into the Easter long weekend, Tavita asked her community to keep it up.

“We encourage people to stay in their bubble and stay in their household and not to go and have dinners in other people's households," she said. "(Even though) it hasn't hit us hard, we still want to make sure our community is safe.”

Evan Radford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Regina Leader-Post, The Leader-Post