Saskatchewan minister says province's pandemic orders supersede municipal ones

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says its COVID-19 orders will supersede those made by municipalities after Regina announced an emergency order with restrictions on crowd sizes that differed from provincial ones.

A news release from the province on Sunday says Government Relations Minister Lori Carr has spoken to Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and clarified that its provincial orders take precedence when there's a conflict.

The province has declared that public gatherings of more than 25 people in one room are prohibited except where two-metre distancing between people can be maintained.

But Regina said in its declaration of a local emergency on Friday that group meetings larger than five people are prohibited, except for essential service providers.

The city also took a further step than the province by ordering retail stores, except for facilities that provide delivery or curbside service, to close as of Monday.

Carr says that while she understands Fougere and Regina councillors intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is of "utmost importance" to minimize confusion.

"I have communicated to Regina Mayor Michael Fougere that the provincial emergency orders have been made based on the advice of Saskatchewan's Chief Medical Health Officer," Carr said in the province's statement on Sunday. 

A spokesman for Fougere said the mayor would not be available for comment until Monday.

The provincial release said Carr has also spoken with the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities to ensure they understand that consistent standards are required.

It further noted that Carr and the two groups have also established a "formal communications mechanism" to ensure all Saskatchewan municipalities know the latest restrictions and standards.

Saskatchewan on Sunday reported eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 52 reported cases.

Thirty-three of those cases are confirmed and 19 cases are presumptive positive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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