As the only small community in Saskatchewan to have declared a State of Emergency, the town of Gravelbourg has established a unique community model for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the first action items Council enacted was creating an Emergency Measures Organization (EMO), which included coordinators from the fire department, RCMP, EMS, hospital, physicians and community members.

Despite the fact the province rescinded the town’s state of emergency status, Gravelbourg did not disband the EMO committee.

Isabelle Blanchard, Economic Development Officer for the Town of Gravelbourg explains,

“Following the province’s decision to rescind the state of emergency, Council decided to leave the committee active, just not under the state of emergency so the EMO kept working towards reducing the spread of COVID-19 through our community.”

The focus was to work with all the essential service sectors such as the grocery store, banks, post office, pharmacies, and other such businesses to set up preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Some of these measures included the business community shutting their doors to foot traffic or allowing only five people at a time into businesses and following social distancing parameters.

Blanchard adds,

“The EMO committee was fortunate for having input from the doctors when it came to health measures and from the businesses and different community members, so we had a lot of input to make those measures easy for the community to implement.  It also created several volunteer help groups with different initiatives like making face masks and the Gravelbourg Community Connections, so we had that kind of contact with everyone which made everything go smoothly, to be honest.”                                              

The only challenge Blanchard would make mention of is the post office.  She notes,

“It seems like the post office is a challenging place because everyone has their mail so they come in and then see each other, they start chatting and it's not the time to stop and chat especially in the post office where the space is very limited. They'd stop and talk to one another or come in two times a day, so we are trying to figure out a way to reduce the number of trips that people make to the post office, as well as the time they spend there so just go for the essentials.”

Blanchard, the EMO and the town of Gravelbourg are prepared to keep things as they are for the time being and will evaluate the situation as it comes and also under the recommendation of the province.