Saskatoon News | Local Breaking | CTV News Saskatoon
City to deploy 'physical distancing ambassadors' after groups spotted gathering in Saskatoon parks
SASKATOON -- Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark says he has three main concerns over the province’s Re-Open Saskatchewan plan: the vulnerable population, business compliance and clarification for guidelines from the province on social gatherings.
“We’re starting to see situations where people are gathering in groups in parks and outdoor spaces, that are not following those provincial guidelines,” Clark said Friday.
“As long as people are as clear as possible for what’s acceptable and permissible, it makes it easier for us to communicate that and enforce it,” he said.
- COVID-19 updates for Saskatoon and area for Friday, May 1
- Lloydminster Hospital COVID-19 outbreak notification 'should have occurred sooner': SHA
- Beauval, Sask. COVID-19 outbreak declaration 'imminent' health authority CEO says
- COVID-19 outbreak declared at Prince Albert hospital
Phase One of the plan begins Monday, when medical services and boat launches once again be available to the public.
The impending re-opening of the province, combined with warmer temperatures, have more and more people in Saskatoon leaving their homes.
“We’re seeing our numbers and stats — we’re tracking them on a bi-weekly basis,” said the CEO of Meewasin Andrea Lafond, referring to people out on Meewasin trail. “They’re increasing between 170 to 250 percent, so avoiding crowds when getting out is critically important.”
“If you’re getting out we need you to spread out,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod from the Saskatoon Emergency Measures Organization. “We have over 200 parks throughout the city that you can access and you can use, and we really are encouraging people to use all of those green spaces when they get out.”
In a statement on Friday, Saskatchewan Health Authority Medial Health Officer Dr. Jasmine Hasselback is reminding people to routinely wash their hands for 20 seconds, while not touching their faces, and avoiding interactions with those outside of their own households.
“It also means that even though the weather is nicer and you may want to be outside, we still have to maintain physical distancing – stay two meters away from anyone who is not a member of your own household or your virtual household to keep yourself and others safe.”
Superintendent Randy Huisman with the Saskatoon Police Service says they’ve received 286 non-compliance calls, the majority of them about house parties or places of worship.
“Of the 286 non-compliance calls, we’ve attended to 131 of them, about 46 per cent,” he said. “We haven’t issued any tickets yet. We are taking the stance that public education and awareness is the best tool on our belts at this time for compliance.”
Huisman says the vast majority of calls that Saskatoon police have attended turn out to be for gatherings where there are fewer than 10 people who are properly physically distancing.
“We’re not suggesting that we’re going to lay charges, it’s all on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “ If somebody does not want to abide by our advice, and we’re back, then we will issue tickets.”
He says that the Saskatoon police bike unit will be out to monitor social gatherings and Goulden-McLeod says the city will be doing the same.
“The City of Saskatoon is re-deploying some of our recreation staff, and they will be physical distancing ambassadors in our park spaces,” she said.
“They will ensure that signage and barriers are all in place in the over 250 playgrounds we have throughout the city, and they will be replacing those supplies as needed. They’ll also act as promotion of public education and reminders to people, that we want to keep that physical distancing in mind.”
“I’m not at the point where I think we should put the brakes on, but we just need to keep working together and communicating and closing any potential risk areas that could have an effect,” said Clark. “It’s a crucial time that we keep being smart, and strategic, and safe in all of our actions.”