Short-term 'circuit-breaker' lockdown off the table for now, Sask. premier says
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe at a press conference at the Legislative Building in Regina on Tuesday Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell
SASKATOON -- When announcing a series of new restrictions described as a "significant one-month slowdown," Saskatchewan's premier dismissed the idea of a short-term "circuit breaker" lockdown to help curb the number of COVID-19 cases in the province.
The measure — pitched by the head of the province's nurses union, among others — would see a short-term lockdown put in place to help break the cycle of COVID-19 transmission.
"We need to take that brave step on doing what we call a circuit break, where we have, you know, two to three weeks where things are shut down. So we can do some catching up in our health-care system," Saskatchewan Union of Nurses President Tracy Zambory told CTV News on Monday.
Circuit breaker lockdowns have been implemented in other jurisdictions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, while speaking to media in Regina on Tuesday, Premier Scott Moe said the measure only "reduces the numbers temporarily" and he worries that even a short-term lockdown would create hardships.
"Why wouldn't we do a circuit breaker or lockdown at this point in time? The consequences are there and they're quite severe," Moe said.
"We lost 70,000 jobs in the province when we locked down the first time. Thankfully, through a robust recovery, we have been able to recapture about 55,000 of those jobs here in the province leaving us about 15,000 jobs short of where we were pre-COVID."
On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan NDP also weighed in, calling for a three-week circuit breaker that would see non-essential businesses close to in-person traffic and other measures.
Moe said that according to estimates, "tens of thousands" of jobs could be permanently lost in the province if the economy is shutdown again.
"The consequences of a lockdown are real, the 15,000 people that are not back at work yet from our first lockdown, I would say that the consequences for those individuals and their families is very real," Moe said.
Moe did indicate that a lockdown could still be in Saskatchewan's future if case counts continue to surge.
"That's why we're making the decisions that we are here today is to curb the spread of COVID-19. Our hope and our plan is to curb that prior to Christmas so that we can actually have, you know, some degree of visitation over the Christmas holidays."