Fine, arrest for people not complying with 14-day isolation in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says people who know of anyone not self-isolating after returning from international travel can now call police.

Moe announced sweeping new restrictions Friday aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. He said the public health recommendation to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning from international travel is now mandatory.

He signed an emergency order enabling police to enforce protective measures.

"This doesn't mean that you go to the grocery store or go to the drug store or go fill up with gas and then you go home and self-isolate. This means you go home. And you stay home now," Moe said at a news conference.

"If you don't do this, you're now breaking the law."

Those who refuse to follow the order could face up to a $2,000 fine or arrest, Moe said.

"The vast majority of people are complying with this."

Almost all of Saskatchewan's 26 COVID-19 cases are related to foreign-travel, which is why it's essential those returning self-isolate, the premier said. Six new cases were announced Friday.

Health Minister Jim Reiter said he's heard stories of people who have not self-isolated. He said anyone who knows of a person not following the order should also talk to that person.

"It's concerning," he said. "We need people to recognize how serious this is and we think this should grab their attention."

After the announcement, the government issued an emergency alert warning people about the potential for fines.

Regina police said in a statement that calls about self-isolation will be recorded and officers will work with public health officials to decide what to do.

"We echo the province in seeking compliance to self-isolation and social distancing, and we expect that can be achieved through education," the statement read.

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili announced earlier Friday that he's self-isolating because his wife, who is a pediatrician, woke up with a cough.

"She has a test booked for tomorrow AM. Hopefully it will be clear and she can get right back to seeing patients!" he said on Twitter.

Saskatchewan is also offering some relief for people who can't work because they are self-isolating.

People who have to stay at home and aren't covered by sick leave, private insurance or federal employment insurance will get $450 per week for a maximum of two weeks.

A ban on large gatherings will no longer allow more than 25 people in one room, except where two-metre social distancing can be maintained. Bars and restaurants will also be closing for everything but takeout effective Monday.

The government plans to open daycare spaces in schools for children of front-line health workers responding to COVID-19.

Priority is to be given to parents of school-aged children who work in hospitals, testing sites, primary care areas and labs.

Other essential staff like firefighters and police, as well as social services employees who provide income assistance and child protection, are also eligible.

"We felt that it was important to ensure that there was child care for our emergency workers," Education Minister Gord Wyant said Friday, adding that more than 2,300 spots have been made available.

The school daycares will be properly sanitized, he said.

"We want to minimize the risk as much as possible," said Wyant.

"There certainly is some additional space in the schools now that there's no children there. So there'll be lots of opportunity to further distance kids from each other to maintain the smallest groups that they possibly can."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2020.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Latest Blogs