Northern travel ban, restaurant restrictions lift in Saskatchewan

Northern travel ban, restaurant restrictions lift in Saskatchewan

REGINA — People living in northern Saskatchewan can once again move throughout the region freely after weeks of travel bans, but at least one local leader says the division created by the roadblocks will take some time to heal.

The province on Monday lifted the remaining restrictions on non-essential travel that had been imposed because of an outbreak of COVID-19.

The Northern Village of Green Lake, about 300 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, is on the edge of the boreal forest and regularly sees visitors and tourists during the summer.

“We have to look at it as opportunity to evaluate and find some good things coming out of it,” Mayor Ric Richardson said of the travel restriction being lifted.

“It’s created some really negative divisions in Saskatchewan and we have to learn from that.”

Some leaders and First Nations had expressed concerns about provincial control of checkpoints in the region, which they said resulted in some northerners being penalized for driving to get groceries.

Richardson and his partner, Rose, said living with the limits in place provided some assurance that their community was protected against the spread of COVID-19. But, they said, communication with the government could have been better. For one, northwest leaders had requested restrictions be put in place earlier than they were.

Rose Richardson said Indigenous people were discriminated against when they went south for medical treatment.

“The south did not want to treat anybody that came from the north,” she said.

“They were totally rejected as if they were contaminated or something.”

The Dene village of La Loche, about 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, spent weeks dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19 after the novel coronavirus arrived via travel from an oilsands camp in Alberta.

Mayor Robert St. Pierre said Monday only three active cases of the infection remained.

“It feels good to have some of these restrictions lifted and the community getting to some sense of normalcy.”

The province did report two more seniors in the far north had died from COVID-19, bringing the province’s death toll to 13.

Of the 654 total cases, 17 were considered active. Health officials say three of out of the four new cases announced Monday are travel-related.

The federal government also said passengers on two flights into Saskatoon at the end of May from Toronto and Calgary may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Places of worship, personal care services, such as nail salons and tattoo parlours, and gyms were all allowed to reopen in the province Monday. Restaurants and bars opened their doors as well, but at half capacity and with physical distancing between tables.

Child-care centres reopened, but with a maximum of 15 children.

The limit on gatherings also increased to 15 people from 10 indoors and to 30 outside. And the government announced Friday that playgrounds and beaches could reopen, after parents expressed concerns about the lack of options for kids.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab had said this third stage of reopening would be significant. Health officials are to continue to monitor the case count and the spread of the virus before moving ahead with relaxing more rules.

Shahab said gatherings of 20 to 30 people seem to be the sweet spot and that there’s more risk with larger gatherings.

Premier Scott Moe also said he is concerned about the possible transmission of the virus through recent anti-racism protests held in front of the legislature and in Saskatoon following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

The future site of the Rimbey Travel Centre. Web photo
New Rimbey development aims to capitalize on highway traffic

Phase I of the Rimbey Travel Centre would be along Hwy. 20, if approved

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

soup
Rimbey FCSS to introduce the Cultural Community Kitchen

The Cultural Community Kitchen sessions will be held at the Rimbey Co-op

robbery
UPDATE: Shooting suspect arrested by Wetaskiwin/Camrose RCMP

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Most Read