Saskatoon limousine owner facing 'no income' after service banned under COVID-19 rules
The inside of a Living Skies Limousine party bus. (Laura Woodward/CTV News)
SASKATOON -- The owner of a Saskatoon limo and party bus service says the move to shut down the industry was made without consulting businesses.
On Tuesday, the province announced group limos and party buses will be banned on Thursday under the new COVID-19 restrictions.
Within hours, James Rolston’s business turned upside down.
“We never got any notice. I had to find out on the news,” said Rolston, owner of Living Skies Limousine.
Rolston spent the last day allowed to operate calling customers to give refunds.
“We have no bottom line now. We’re done. We have no income coming in,” said Rolston, who started the business about 12 years ago.
The industry has taken a hit following the cancellation of concerts, sports and weddings.
Now, Rolston will be losing out on Enchanted Forest tours and Christmas party transportation.
“I can’t even take a family of five out to a restaurant,” he said, adding that drivers all wear masks and clean the vehicles after every use.
Rolston said it’s unfair public transit can operate but limos can’t.
Premier Scott Moe said the goal of the new restrictions is to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“This is not a lockdown. This is a slowdown, a significant one-month slowdown,” Moe said.
“Our numbers in this province are not good and the trend is going in the wrong direction.”
In a statement to CTV News, Executive Council spokesperson James Parker said: “Advance notice was not provided prior to announcing these specific restrictions; however, health officials and the Business Response Team continue to work with the business community on the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, as we have throughout this pandemic.”
On Wednesday the province reported 132 new COVID-19 cases and the 32nd death related to the disease.
The limo and party bus restrictions are in place until Dec. 17. After that, health officials will decide to extend, enhance or remove the rules.