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Anti-mandate demonstrators gather as a truck convoy blocks the highway the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., on Jan. 31.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The Saskatchewan legislature has been closed in advance of a demonstration expected on Saturday against COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaker Randy Weekes said in a statement Friday that out of an abundance of caution, visitor access has been suspended until there’s no potential threat from protesters.

Weekes said all tours, as well as educational and public events, have been cancelled and security has been enhanced. Members of the legislative assembly, authorized employees, accredited media, service contractors and public service employees are still allowed into the building.

Protesters have said the trucker convoy will stay until Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Premier Scott Moe has said the Saskatchewan Party government will do that soon, but he has not released a date.

“We most certainly agree that all Canadians do have the right to protest,” Moe said Friday during a council of federation meeting.

“However, they do have that right to protest peacefully, and within the confines of the law that we have.”

A day earlier, NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili urged Moe to denounce the convoy.

“To the people who might come to Regina and try to occupy the legislature, go home. It’s not smart, it’s not safe and it’s not right,” Meili said.

Truckers from across the province were expected to arrive in the city Saturday afternoon, but as of Friday honking could be heard near the grounds of the legislature.

Similar convoys are also planned for this weekend across the country to protest COVID-19 mandates and other measures.

The demonstration in Regina coincides with the city’s Frost Festival, an outdoor winter event that’s expected to attract families throughout the weekend to Wascana Park, where the legislature is located.

Concrete barriers have been placed around the legislature and access to streets within the park have been blocked off.

Legislature building manager Steve Bata said in a statement that the barriers are in place to ensure the safety of pedestrians attending the festival.

He said the legislature and park grounds will remain accessible to all pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

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