Regina shelters close doors to try to stop COVID-19 spread, food bank stays open for now

Some of Regina’s most vulnerable residents could find themselves out in the cold as two of the city’s go-to shelters shutter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carmichael Outreach posted a notice on its website Monday stating it has closed its 12th Avenue centre until further notice. The Salvation Army Waterston House is suspending its emergency shelter as of Thursday, Maj. Wayne McDonough told Global News.

“It’s a big challenge for this entire community,” McDonough said of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new novel coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, there were two confirmed and six presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

Where officials are recommending social distancing, self-isolation and in serious instances, quarantine, those in need of a warm place for a short-term stay short term tend to find themselves in close quarters.

“There’s a lot of beds that are very close together. So what we’ve had to do against our best wishes is target the shelter to close,” McDonough said.

Waterston House has 40 apartments and 39 private rooms for long-term stays. Any spaces that were available in those units are being filled by regulars of the emergency shelter, McDonough noted.

“We’re monitoring the folk and if they show any signs of illness or that, we’re able to isolate them,” he said, adding the agency is increasing cleaning and encouraging handwashing.

McDonough said those without lodging will be referred to social services for alternative arrangements.

It’s a move that will place even more strain on already-taxed agencies, he said.

Carmichael Outreach’s COVID-10 strategy aims to stop the spread of the disease “while maintaining our ability to offer services as best as possible,” states the notice on the agency’s website.

We know that the services we offer are absolutely vital.”

Aspects of the agency’s programming will continue with modifications.

While there will be no new housing intakes, existing clients remain. The coffee room is closed, but staff will continue to make coffee and now will be handing it out at the front door starting at 9:15 a.m. Meals will still be served from 1-3 p.m.  —  also at the front door.

Carmichael Outreach has posted a schedule alongside the notice outlining when supplies will be handed out and certain types of donations will be accepted.

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