The Government of Saskatchewan has announced further measures and supports to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in northern Saskatchewan.
The announcement includes further travel restrictions for the Northern Saskatchewan Administrative District (NSAD). Also included was immediate funding of $370,000 targeted to combating COVID-19 in the province’s Far North region, and the addition of seasonal businesses to the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment, including northern outfitters.
“Our government recognizes the unique challenges northern communities are facing in fighting the spread of COVID-19,” Premier Scott Moe said. “We are providing direct supports to northern communities and businesses to ensure the necessary resources are available, while imposing further restrictions to ensure the necessary steps are being taken to reduce the spread and flatten the curve in the North.”
Travel restrictions tightened across northern Saskatchewan
After further consultation with northern leaders by government relations minister Lori Carr, the province is announcing tighter travel restrictions for the province’s North to help stop the spread of COVID-19. An updated public health order has been issued by Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab to impose further restrictions, including:
• Restricting all non-critical travel (including those with primary residences) into and out of the NSAD, as well as restricting all non-critical travel between northern communities.
• Northern residents are ordered to remain in their local communities and to practice appropriate social distancing. Exceptions will be made only for critical items like collecting groceries and medical appointments.
• Travel related to the delivery of essential services will continue to be permitted. For a complete list of approved travel visit https://publications.saskatchewan.ca/#/products/104577.
The NSAD is a large geographic area covering almost half of the province but containing less than 4.0 per cent of the provincial population. Given the uniqueness of the North, case-by-case exemptions to the Order were evaluated upon the request of a community. To date, the municipalities of La Ronge and Stony Rapids have been granted exemptions. This means travel to and from La Ronge and Stony Rapids from outside the NSAD is allowed, but individuals are not permitted to stop in any other community.
Funds targeted to communities combating COVID-19
The Government of Saskatchewan is providing immediate funding of $370,000 targeted to combating COVID-19 in province’s Far North region.
Of the investment, $350,000 will be provided through the Ministry of Government Relations directly to New North, the province’s northern communities association. Funding will help establish, staff and maintain community checkpoints as part of a recent public health order to address COVID-19 in the province’s Far North.
The Northern Village of La Loche will receive $20,000 directly. These funds will be used to support local public safety, food security and educational initiatives organized by the community to encourage physical distancing and self-isolation of residents.
Supports for outfitters and businesses operating in provincial parks
The Government of Saskatchewan also announced new supports for northern outfitters and businesses operating in provincial parks. Amendments to the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) program will ensure these small businesses are eligible for grants up to $5,000.
Announced on April 9, the SSBEP is a $50 million program providing financial support as a one-time grant to small and medium-sized businesses that have had to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants are paid based on 15 per cent of a business’ monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000.
This is in addition to measures taken by the Ministry of Environment to waive lease fees for outfitters for the 2020 season and providing flexible licensing arrangements for those suspending outfitting activities.
A modified application will be available in the coming days and can be accessed by visiting www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.
Information about COVID-19
Public inquiries regarding travel restrictions in the NSAD can be directed to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency toll-free line at 1-855-559-5502.
Businesses seeking further information can contact the Business Response Team by calling 1-844-800-8688, emailing email@example.com or by visiting www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses.
For more information on the current COVID-19 situation in the province, visit www.saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.