Sask. mayors voice support of provincial measures to fight COVID-19

The mayors of Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Swift Current — three of Saskatchewan's larger cities — are expressing support for the provincial measures being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Premier Scott Moe announced additional restrictions, including reducing the size of gatherings to 10 from 25 and additional restrictions on what businesses can remain open to the public.

Last week, Regina city council declared a state of emergency, reducing groups to five from 25 and closing non-essential retail stores.

On Monday, the provincial government rescinded the city's declaration, citing a need to keep policies consistent across Saskatchewan.

"We're all doing this in the spirit of working together and trying to do what we can do best for Regina residents," Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said Monday.

"I knew they were uncomfortable but that doesn't mean you rescind it."

Fougere said "speed trumps perfection," quoting Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization's emergencies program.

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. 

Cities across the country — including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Lethbridge — have declared their own states of emergency in recent days.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader Ryan Meili called for expanded provincial emergency measures reducing the maximum size of allowed gatherings to five from 25 and closing non-essential businesses.

Prince Albert 

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said he intends to follow the directives of the provincial government.

"We are there to support the province. This is a provincial state of emergency. If we let one group lead, I believe we will beat this," Dionne said.

"If they told me to close down my city tomorrow I'd close the city."

Dionne said many non-essential businesses in Prince Albert have closed voluntarily. He said he is focused on the recovery of his community once the pandemic has subsided.

"We're going to lose lots of businesses and restaurants. We are going to be in a big recession once this is over."

Dionne said he is concerned about liquor stores being allowed to remain open.

"I'd like to see all the liquor board stores closed. We are seeing a spike in domestic violence."

Dionne said people are buying large quantities of liquor and stuck at home, posing health and safety issues.

"The police have to deal with those alcohol calls. I worry about them every day," Dionne said.

Moose Jaw 

The City of Moose Jaw is in line with Prince Albert. Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie said his city is taking its cues from the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

"The measures we are taking are being implemented to overcome this issue as quickly as possible and we are adhering to Saskatchewan Health's recommendations," Tolmie said.

The city is keeping residents informed through its website and app and has links to the SHA website.

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"We are working here at City Hall to help our community through this period of uncertainty. I am proud of our community's response to this challenge," Tolmie said.

Swift Current 

Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault echoed the sentiments of both Tolmie and Dionne.

"We take direction from the province in these situations, much like the provinces take direction from the federal government, as evidenced in today's mandatory isolation order," Perrault said.

"It's vital that we work together to provide all citizens in our communities with consistent messaging that keeps them informed and safe."

Perrault said he is confident the government is working to "keep our citizens safe, but keep as many of them as possible working to support their families."

"The people of Swift Current and Southwest Saskatchewan are resilient. We're going to get through this together, and we will do so by working in lockstep with all levels of government," Perrault said.