Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab confirmed in a press conference on Jan. 12 that public health will be maintaining the current COVID-19 restrictions until at least Jan. 29.
This means that masks remain mandatory in all public spaces, and indoor gatherings are still limited five or less, household members only. Outdoor gatherings may only be 10 people, with physical distancing enforced.
All non-essential travel remains not recommended. Sports, fitness activities, dance and places of worship also remain restricted.
The current public health orders were put into place in December and set to be reviewed on Jan. 15, and have now been extended for two more weeks.
The extension comes on the heels of Ontario announcing a full-province lockdown, with Premier Doug Ford declaring a second state of emergency and implementing a stay-at-home order effective on Thursday.
Sahib said the decision to extend current measures is due to the spike in cases that followed the holiday break.
“What we were doing in December was working to curve those numbers down, [and] if we had seen a continued downward trend the first few weeks of January, we might have even considered relaxing some restrictions, but we did not see that,” said Shahab. “We need universal compliance to turn this around.”
Saskatchewan’s current seven-day case average is the second-highest in Canada and tied for highest in active case numbers in Canada.
Shahab said that government officials are still considering more strict measures, should numbers continue to stay high despite the continued restrictions.
“I think we really need to course-correct this week and see a decline in case numbers the next week, otherwise we could be in a critical situation,” said Shahab. “And it just takes 5 or 10 per cent not complying, as the modelling shows, to see numbers start surging upwards.”
Moe said that the measures in place are “not insignificant by any stretch,” and said the negative consequences of a full lockdown are being seriously weighed during public health’s considerations.
Moe also shared that the province will also no longer be withholding secondary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, in order to increase the rate of immunization in the province. Pfizer vaccines are being delivered on schedule, making this possible for public health.
For more information on COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, visit saskatchewan.ca/COVID19.