Saskatoon mayor wants consistent COVID-19 rules as city faces 'drastic' situation

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark says he wants to see a consistent framework from the province - including an indoor mask mandate and screening people attending non-essential events.

"I think a lot of us, we had a nice summer and a chance to feel like things were getting back to normal again. And then now we're really a hot spot in the entire country almost in Saskatoon given the case numbers, and also what we're hearing from hospitals and ICUs about just what how drastic the situation is there," he said in CTV Morning Live.

With the two-month mark approaching since Saskatchewan ceased all public health restrictions, the seven-day average for new cases is now at its highest point ever during the pandemic. Saskatoon is leading the province with 966 active cases.

Clark said mask and vaccination mandates would mean the province does not enter a stricter lockdown, noting that many restaurants and businesses, as well as sports, arts and entertainment venues, are in "survival mode."

"We know there's ways to have safe activities, but without a framework right now it's a real Swiss cheese kind of situation and the virus is able to travel through our community and we have every reason to be very concerned."

Clark said Saskatoon has acted within its jurisdiction, making masks mandatory in its facilities and implementing a mandatory testing regime among its staff. The city is also considering requiring a vaccination or a negative test to participate in city activities.

"We also really need to have incentives for people to get vaccinated. And that's one of the reasons why I think having some of those screening mechanisms in place like the Riders have done and other things are important because we absolutely have to get from 68 per cent to over 80 per cent vaccinated so we're not stuck in this situation forever."

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said City Council will likely also implement a mask mandate at its meeting Tuesday.

"We mask up, then we don't have to put any other restrictions on and that's what I'm worried about," he told CTV Prince Albert.

"If that's all I have to do today is to put a mask on, you know to stop businesses from having to be closed, or for me going to a hockey rink or stuff like that, I'd be pleased."

He said he had asked the province on July 11 - the day restrictions ended - to put restrictions on Saskatchewan Roughrider games and other events, and the province refused.

"Now they've left it up to the cities and the spike is really starting to scare cities. What worries us is, lots of the cases are in the north and we're the hub. People come from the north to get their groceries, to go to the hospital, to get their education and to visit and their supplies.

"And so it's important that we put safeguards in to protect our citizens."