SASKATOON -- The Chief and Council of Montreal Lake Cree Nation want the province to ban the sale of liquor to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Since the bars and night clubs have been shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have seen an increase of house parties on our First Nation," Chief Frank Roberts said in a news release.

"On behalf of Council, we are extremely worried that people at these parties, which involve the use of alcohol, are not practicing social distancing. Consequently, this high-risk behaviour of socializing at house parties will only contribute to the spread of COVID-19. In addition, bootleggers have ramped up their illegal liquor sales on reserve."

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has also asked the province to close liquor stores.

Premier Scott Moe has said public liquor stores will remain open for now, but that could change.

Closing public liquor stores would add people to the province's detox services as well as drive customers to a smaller number of private liquor stores, he said.