Boundary city Lloydminster will side with Saskatchewan after the province was first to announce plans to lift restrictions brought on by the novel coronavirus.
The first phase of the plan announced by Premier Scott Moe takes effect May 4. Medical services like dentistry, optometry and physiotherapy will all become available.
Golf courses are slated to open May 15, followed by retail stores on May 19, and campgrounds on June 1.
Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers told Global News it was a matter of balancing the needs of residents and business owners. However, he’s not anticipating an immediate rush of Albertans looking to access services.
“I don’t expect a real onslaught from that perspective,” Aalbers said.
There are no dates for phases three, four and five, which begin with reopening restaurants and gyms before escalating to recreation facilities and ending all long-term restrictions.
On Thursday, Premier Scott Moe stated he didn’t believe eased rules in Saskatchewan would pose a risk to other provinces.
“We continue to strongly discourage all non-essential interprovincial and international travel,” Moe said.
Provincial borders are fluid in Canada. In cases like Lloydminster, residents might work in one province and live in another.
Even a single person can lead to dozens of COVID-19 cases, according to Dr. Craig Jenne, associate professor in the University of Calgary’s department of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases.
“If one province has more infections than another and there’s nothing to stop people from moving between provinces, there’s always a risk of importing infection into an area that is otherwise low,” Jenne said.
On March 21, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) called for provincial border closures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In an interview Friday, FSIN vice-chief Heather Bear said she welcomes the province’s phased-in approach, in part, because First Nations can control who enters or leaves their communities.
“They have that jurisdiction, they have that autonomy to make the best decisions for their people,” Bear said.
Ten new coronavirus cases were reported in Saskatchewan on Friday, bringing the overall total to 341. Alberta reported 297 new cases, bringing the total to 4,017.