Saskatchewan

Regina says essential services will be uninterrupted, bills may be paused due to COVID-19

The City of Regina says essential services will be provided even if the local situation with COVID-19 worsens.

Civic staff encouraged to work from home if possible

Mayor Micheal Fougere told reporters that water, waste water, Regina Fire and Protective Services and the Regina Police Service (RPS) will operate no matter what. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The City of Regina says essential services will be provided even if the local situation with COVID-19 worsens.

On Thursday, officials with Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health confirmed the first presumptive case of COVID-19 was recorded in the province. So far, there are no reported cases in Regina.

Mayor Micheal Fougere told reporters that water, waste water, Regina Fire and Protective Services and the Regina Police Service (RPS) will operate no matter what. 

"There could be cases identified in Regina and Saskatchewan at any time," said Fougere. "Just understand that we're in this all together as a community. We need to support each other." 

Asked if the city will give residents a break on paying bills if they face financial hardship due to the virus, city manager Chris Holden said yes, illness or quarantine will be taken into consideration.

"Where we need to be lenient we will," Holden said. "We're not going to be charging people interest or shutting off their service or cancelling their service if they're legitimately in a place where they have to deal with this health crisis."

Fourgere said Regina police chief Evan Bray has briefed him on RPS's plan. 

"They are obviously an essential service," said Fougere. "Police officers who interact with people everyday understand that if they come into contact with someone who has the virus they have a way to protect themselves as well."

City encouraging civic staff to work from home

Holden said the city is encouraging staff to work from home and has cancelled all out-of-province business travel as of Friday.

He said the city has adopted a more extensive cleaning regime in the evenings for public spaces like buses. 

Holden said he's talked to the Saskatchewan Health Authority about setting up COVID-19 testing or quarantine sites if needed. 

"The city has facilities," he said. "It would require potentially a closure of a recreation centre, what have you. But if that's a priority for the community then those are the relationships that we have and we would look at moving forward and activating those types of spaces."

The city runs a variety of recreational programs, ranging from swimming lessons to pickleball, that often put people in close proximity. There are also events such as concerts that take place at city-owned facilities.

No city-wide ban on mass events

The Regina & District Chamber of Commerce has postponed all of its upcoming spring and winter events until later this year.

Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL), which operates Evraz Place, said it will continue with business as usual. 

"We do, however, understand that this is a very dynamic and fluid situation," said marketing manager Sabeen Ahmad in an emailed statement. "We will continue to update all of our stakeholders and the public as we receive updates."

The What Women Want trade show is scheduled to run Friday and Saturday, followed by a PBR bull riding on Saturday night. 

The Spring Home Show and Outdoor Adventure Show scheduled for later in the month was supposed to be held at the facility as well, but has announced a cancellation, following suit with the Junos in Saskatoon.

Fougere said the future of city events, like the Reimagine Conference 2020, are under discussion, but he did not announce any cancellations. 

He said he is waiting to see if the province will issue any restrictions on public gatherings. 

All city facilities remain open, including recreational sites. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Soloducha is a reporter, social media producer and digital producer for CBC Saskatchewan. She was part of a team that won a Canadian RTDNA award for a digital COVID-19 Kids Q&A. She can be reached at alex.soloducha@cbc.ca and follow on TikTok @cbcsasknews.

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