Saskatchewan’s top doctor is worried about a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Moose Jaw, as some businesses say travel advisories in and around Regina are being ignored.
“We had a customer who said that they were going to come in on Monday, but due to the weather, they waited until (Tuesday) to come from Regina. And I kind of shook my head a little bit,” said Chris Schubert, the owner of Rosie’s on River Street.
“That’s kind of the tough spot we’ve been put in as restaurant owners, is that it’s always just an advisory.“
In February, Tourism Moose Jaw released an ad encouraging people to visit the city, while poking fun at some of the elected officials who chose to travel outside the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are putting that video on pause right now,” said Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie. “We did put a disclaimer on to travel safely and to follow all the rules and regulations.”
As cases of COVID-19 climb in the city, residents are now being told to buckle down and take extra precautions.
“At the time, I cringed a little bit. To me it’s a little premature,” Schubert said about the ad.
“We’ve got provincial government health officials telling people to stay home, stay in their bubble and we’ve got other forms of government saying, ‘No, it’s good, come, come to Moose Jaw.'”
Schubert says while tourism is good for business, serving Regina residents puts him in a tough spot.
“There’s been no requirement on restaurants to ask people where they’re coming from, are they in the same bubble, that kind of thing,” Schubert said.
“As a business owner, you want this to be over and expedite the whole thing by following the guidelines. At the same time, you have these people coming through your doors who clearly aren’t adhering to some of the guidelines put forth by the government.”
Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease physician, says without clear guidance from the province, the responsibility falls on municipal leaders.
“People look at it, they see mixed messaging,” Wong said. “But that’s the reality of where we’re at. If you put your whole tourism piece in place and now your community is going up with variants, you know, it’s not the greatest timing.”
Outlined in the COVID-19 update Wednesday, the south central zone, which includes Moose Jaw, has 128 variant of concern cases.
“The proportion of variance in Moose jaw is now pretty much similar to that of what we see in Regina. So it kind of remains to be seen exactly how it’s all going to kind of pan out.”
On Tuesday the premier said there is no need to tighten restrictions in Moose Jaw just yet, although the province continues to monitor the situation.
For now, Regina residents are strongly encouraged to avoid all travel and Tolmie says as the long weekend approaches it’s important for everyone to stay vigilant.