Regina Mayor Michael Fougere made the announcement during a press conference at city hall on Thursday.
“Those businesses and individuals who are shutting down the business, the person who is now unemployed…I’m more concerned about making sure they have food, that they don’t have to worry about the utility payment, they don’t have to worry about their property taxes,” Fougere said.
“We’ll work with them to make sure that’s not top of mind for them and they have some comfort in that regard.”
Fougere also said council will address public transit, parking and bylaw enforcement, especially around the general hospital.
He said he has heard complaints about hospital staff getting parking tickets and believes the city needs to “lessen the burden of those on the front line fighting the virus.”
“We do not want to be an impediment to them,” Fougere said. “I just can’t imagine a scenario where someone is in their outfit and having to leave to move their car.”
Fougere also addressed Saskatchewan’s decision to declare a state of emergency, limiting gatherings of more than 50. The Regina mayor believes that figure is too many people.
Fougere said a five-person gathering limit would be more appropriate, adding that the city will be asking the province about social gatherings and whether or not it’s necessary for restaurants and bars to stay open.
“Having restaurants and bars open, when we know, that community transmission will be happening, if not happening already, is putting people at risk,” Fougere said.
“I’ve spoken with a provincial minister about this and I hope to speak to the premier later today about re-evaluating that.”
Fougere said the city will also discuss food security, especially when it comes to vulnerable residents.
“I just can’t imagine anyone who is living on the street or vulnerable to living on the street who are now unemployed and who are concerned about feeding their family,” Fougere said. “We need to look after them.”
He said public safety remains the No. 1 concern and that the city needs to act quickly in its response to COVID-19.
“Speed trumps perfection…the cost of that is,, frankly, secondary,” Fougere said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
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