Checkstops and curfews: Bigstone Cree Nation taking extra steps to keep COVID-19 away
EDMONTON -- In an effort to keep COVID-19 from spreading into its community, Bigstone Cree Nation and Municipality District No. 17 council announced extra measures Monday.
A letter posted on its website outlined the steps, which include limiting access to the First Nation through roadside checkpoints.
The checkpoints have been setup at both of the reserve’s major access points.
“The checkpoints are important for people that we do not know that are coming into our community,” Bigstone Cree Nation Chief Silas Yellowknee told CTV News Edmonton by phone Wednesday.
“We want to know what they’re coming to get and asking them questions about this COVID-19 because that’s one thing we don’t want in our community,” said Yellowknee.
A community-wide curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. has also been introduced.
Only workers deemed essential service providers are allowed on local roads during the curfew hours.
Anyone caught violating the curfew will be escorted home by RCMP and could face a fine of $500.
“For our community, what’s safest is keeping young people off the street,” said Yellowknee. “This way nobody will be able to catch anything if everybody’s at home during the times that we required.”
Community members who decide to leave the region are being told to self-isolate for 14 days once they return. Those who don’t could face a $2,000 fine.
Minors are no longer allowed to enter community grocery or convenience stores.
Friday, Bigstone Cree Nation declared a state of local emergency.
An estimated 5,400 people live on the reserve. So far there have been no reported cases of COVID-19.
“I think we pretty well have it under control because we are getting good results from our community members,” said Chief Yellowknee. “People are saying, ‘It’s about time.’ A lot of them are happy it’s being done.”
Bigstone Cree Nation is 111 kilometres northwest of Calling Lake, Alta.