Sask. Pen staff ordered to self-isolate as COVID-19 outbreak continues

Herald file photo.

As the number of active COVID-19 cases at Saskatchewan Penitentiary continues to rise, all staff who work in the facility — regardless of whether they came into contact with infected units — have been ordered to self-isolate until Dec. 27.

The Daily Herald confirmed the isolation order with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. Regional President James Bloomfield told the Herald that the order means officers can still go to work, in full PPE, but can’t spend time with their family when they return from work at the end of the day.

That’s adding to an already stressful situation, Bloomfield said. He emphasized, though, that the focus should be and is on containing the spread of the virus, something he said is more complicated at Sask. Pen than at some other, newer facilities, especially because the outbreak is on the medium-security range, which was built with bars as opposed to windows and doors.

Stress can make the situation more volatile, he said, especially as inmates are restricted in their movement in an effort to contain the virus.

Inmate families have been raising concerns about sanitation procedures and access to shared spaces and objects, such as phones for connecting with loved ones. Multiple concerns raised by family members have been forwarded to the Daily Herald.

The Herald is awaiting comment from Correctional Service Canada.

More to come.