'It wasn't an easy call': Sask.'s only safe drug consumption site shuts down after worker tests positive for COVID-19
Prairie Harm Reduction's safe consumption site is pictured Sept. 30, 2020.
SASKATOON -- After a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, Saskatchewan's only safe drug consumption site is closing for two weeks.
The case was confirmed over the weekend and the worker who tested positive had stayed home last week because they were experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, according to Prairie Harm Reduction's executive director Jason Mercredi.
"We made the decision as a management team to close down the centre for two weeks, all of our staff have gone for testing," Mercredi told CTV News.
"It's just a way for us to be proactive and prevent any further spread."
Mercredi said the safe consumption site had been requiring staff and clients to wear masks, and go through a screening process when they enterd the building.
Handwashing stations are posted at its entrance, while hand sanitizer has been readily available.
The decision to close the site, which has been open just shy of two months, was a difficult one, Mercredi said.
"It wasn't an easy call, we're the only warm-up location in Pleasant Hill for the cold weather strategy. We're the only public washroom in Pleasant Hill. There are going to be a lot of people that are, you know, homeless or hard to house that normally come to us, even just to warm up," Mercredi said.
"Now we're going to have two weeks in the community without safe consumption site services.”
For Mercredi, the shutdown illustrates the reality that the site offers its services on what he calls a "scaled-down model" with the "minimal amount of staff."
"(Our clients) don't have a lot of options. So when you're starting to see a lot more people come into our facility to use our consumption site services, because people are starting to feel comfortable and they're starting to feel like we respected them and now with circuit breaker that we're doing, you know, they're gonna have to find someplace else to use their drugs, which is really unfortunate."