Sask. NDP calls for short lockdown to manage increase in COVID-19 cases
NDP leader Ryan Meili speaks at a campaign event on Oct. 17, 2020.
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan NDP is urging the government to implement a short lockdown to get a handle on COVID-19.
Known as a circuit breaker, the shutdown would protect businesses and the health care system, the NDP said on Wednesday.
“If we want to protect our economy and our businesses, we need to get control of the pandemic,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili in a news release. “The choice is not between our health care or our economy - it is between a targeted action now or a much more severe lockdown later.”
Cases of COVID-19 have surged over the past few weeks. The province reported 240 new cases on Tuesday and 2,055 active cases.
Premier Scott Moe has shied away from a lockdown for now, saying such measures would result in permanent job losses.
However, Moe has said the government will consider a lockdown should cases escalate further.
The province has already implemented some restrictions, such as reducing private gathering sizes, mandating masks province-wide and restricting some activities.
Meili, however, said these measures aren’t enough and more action is needed.
“Scott Moe’s lack of timely and decisive action has put the province at risk of an out-of-control second wave that will overwhelm the health system, cost lives and shutter businesses for good,” Meili said. “We need a consistent, coordinated and properly funded approach that will protect our health care system and our economy”
As part of the short lockdown, the NDP would like the province to:
- Close non-essential businesses and allow retail stores to maintain delivery and curbside service.
- Limit essential businesses to 25% capacity.
- Allow bars and restaurants to operate with take-out and delivery only.
- Close sports, fitness and recreation facilities.
- Close bingo halls and casinos.
- Keep schools open at Level 3 throughout the province, with support to reduce class sizes.
- Supports for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll.
- Emergency supports for workers who still find themselves temporarily out of work.
- Bring back the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment. Program and fix it to make it more accessible.
- Provide gap supports - similar to what is offered in Manitoba - for businesses that are not eligible for federal supports.
- Provide small business innovation grants for business owners that wish to upgrade to online retailing, delivery platforms and virtual service delivery.
- Bring back the moratorium on residential evictions and stop clawbacks on housing and income assistance.