Regina city council votes to close retail stores in response to COVID-19
Store closures are crucial to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, councillor says
The City of Regina has ordered that certain retailers and businesses temporarily close their doors as part of an initiative to reduce and slow the transmission of COVID-19 in the city.
"We only have one chance to prevent this going through our community and I think we need to take that chance," said Sharron Bryce, a councillor representing Ward 7 who is also a registered nurse.
Officials from all levels of government, including Canada's chief medical health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, are urging Canadians to isolate themselves for 14 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has killed thousands worldwide.
In the early afternoon Friday, the city declared an emergency and said bars, restaurants and clubs in the city must close immediately.
Later the same day, council expanded the list of businesses that must close.
In Regina, retail stores like clothing stores, sporting goods and toy stores are just some of the businesses that will have to be closed on Monday.
Self-isolation is putting the onus on Canadians to do their part to "flatten the curve" by staying home if they have symptoms, a policy initiative aimed at reducing the stress on the already taxed health care system.
Friday also saw the introduction of new measures by the Saskatchewan government, which has mandated that anyone who has recently travelled outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days.
Those who refuse to comply with the order face potential legal troubles, including a $2,000 fine.
Ward 3 councillor Andrew Stevens took issue with the process the city was following, with some remarks aimed at Mayor Michael Fougere.
"I'm very confused. Your Worship," Stevens said. "It was this week that you insisted we don't get ahead of the province and now we need to get ahead of the province. I have no idea what strategy is now guiding us."
Stevens questioned why the city was the one to make the decision on which stores can stay open, noting that sporting goods applies to a franchise like Canadian Tire, which stocks supplies people might consider essential.
"I don't know what to make sense of this," Stevens said.