Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation closing borders to limit spread of COVID-19

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, northwest of Edmonton is closing its borders to non-members as a precautionary measure due to coronavirus. 

Non-members will not be allowed to enter the reserve amid rising coronavirus cases in Alberta

Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation announced the measures on Saturday. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

A central Alberta First Nation is closing its borders to non-members as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus. 

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation northwest of Edmonton joins other Indigenous communities in Alberta in limiting travel to keep members safe during the pandemic. 

The Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, Fort McKay and Peerless Trout First Nation have set up curfews and put up barriers to monitor the flow of people inside their communities. 

Chief Tony Alexis made the announcement Saturday, citing concerns for the community's elders and vulnerable population. He said three entrances to the community will be closed and only two will remain open for members to enter and exit.

Non-members who already live in the community and have families there will be allowed to stay. 

"We have created passes for member vehicles," he said. 

"If a vehicle approaches that does not have the pass, they will be asked to turn around and leave for the safety of our community."

'You need to stop'

Alexis also urged members to stop bringing in non-members, saying it endangers elders and the vulnerable.

"You need to stop," he said.

Off-reserve members who return to the community will have to self-isolate for 14 days while those off-reserve who are just visiting family members will have to report to security first and maintain physical distance during their visit.

"If possible, have the visits outside the home or on the doorstep," he said.

In his address, Alexis also reminded community members of the rules in place, including limiting gatherings to five people and maintaining physical distance.

Elders are being sent care packages to help provide them with essentials.

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation has also closed its social service offices. Cheques are instead delivered to the homes of social security clients. 

Alexis also said that if people are sick they should stay home.

"If you or your family is in quarantine, we will provide for your household delivery of food and water and other necessities," he said. 

He said anyone with symptoms should stay home for a minimum of 10 days. 

As of Friday, Alberta has 542 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

With files from Jamie Malbeuf