When it comes to the map, Lloydminster is a city divided. But when it comes to relaxing public health restrictions, it’s Saskatchewan all the way.
Beginning Monday, the border city 250 kilometres east of Edmonton will join Saskatchewan in its phased reopening of health services, businesses and recreational facilities that have had operations curtailed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The five-step plan will be open to organizations on both the Saskatchewan and Alberta sides of the city, said Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
“If we see a spike in the increase in numbers of patients with COVID, this may change again. It’s a plan and of course that plan is always open to change,” Aalbers told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM on Monday.
As of Sunday, Saskatchewan had 353 confirmed cases of COVID-19, compared to 4,488 in Alberta. There is one case in Lloydminster, according to Alberta Health data.
The first phase of the Saskatchewan reopen plan begins May 4 for restricted medical services, such as dentistry, optometry and chiropractic services. On May 15, golf courses can reopen — “conditions permitting, of course,” Aalbers said — followed by camping on June 1.
The second phase, beginning on May 19, allows some retail and personal care businesses to reopen.
Aalbers chuckled at the idea of Albertans rushing to Lloydminister to golf at the city course or camp at Weaver Lake campground, both of which are on the Saskatchewan side. Alberta’s golf courses are currently closed.
“We have a great golf course but … I suspect that those that have a choice will likely head to British Columbia before they come to Saskatchewan,” he said.
All openings are voluntary and establishments must take measures to abide by guidelines including appropriate personal protective equipment, thorough cleaning and maintaining physical distancing, he said.
Dates haven’t yet been set for the final three phases, which affect restaurants, daycares and recreation facilities as well as increasing the size of gatherings.
Aalbers made it clear the situation will be monitored for an influx in cases.
“We know it’s working in the grocery stores today and some of our select essential services that are open for business but we know it’s a challenge,” he said.
“We’re a couple of weeks away from this happening so we’re slowly getting people ready. This will allow those businesses and staff to make sure that they’ve got all the proper equipment and that they feel, like I say, safe to continue to operate or to open up.”