Sask. Hutterite colonies with COVID-19 won’t be locked down, for now
REGINA -- Saskatchewan has no plans yet to impose stricter measures on some Hutterite colonies after cases of COVID-19 further surged in their communities.
Speaking with reporters Thursday, Rural and Remote Health Minister Warren Kaeding said even though it’s possible there might be more enforcement if the situation worsens, it’s currently not necessary.
“If we were not getting the co-operation, the tremendous co-operation we have been with Hutterites in particular, we would maybe have to consider something like that,” he said.
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On Thursday, the government reported 42 new cases of COVID-19 in the province. The bulk of those cases are located in the south and central regions, with the majority being in Hutterite colonies.
Given the increase, some are questioning why the government won’t lock down communities with higher cases. In the north, non-essential travel was restricted in April after cases increased.
Kaeding said northern communities requested the restrictions. Hutterite colonies, he said, haven’t requested the measure.
“I think with the co-operation and willingness of these communities to work with restrictions and the testing, they have not asked for that to occur,” he said.
Kaeding said he believes the province and communities have done everything they can to be safe.
He said the spread of the virus is difficult to predict.
“I wouldn’t say anything has gone wrong,” he said. “This is a long-term process we have to go through, and we are understanding how this is going to evolve and how this is transmitted.”
Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the Hutterian Safety Council has been working well with the government to contain the spread.
He said health authorities have gone into communities to do more testing and contact tracing. As well, he said colony members have put restrictions on leaving the colony, wearing masks, washing hands and physical distancing.
“Hutterites didn’t bring COVID-19 into Saskatchewan,” he said. “Just like any resident in the province, we have to be aware of what we need to do as individuals and as a community to prevent and mitigate the spread of this disease.”
Livingstone said the spread of COVID-19 will depend on the public continuing to practice safety by physical distancing, wearing masks, hand washing and limiting contact with other people.
“We want to find those cases as quickly as we can and we want to contact trace those cases as quickly as we can,” he said.