Tuesday was the first day of Phase Two of Re-Open Saskatchewan, but much of the talk at the daily COVID-19 update was on when phase three might begin.
Premier Scott Moe confirmed at the news conference that June is the earliest they would consider moving ahead with Phase Three of the re-open plan.
That phase would include opening of food services, gyms, fitness centres, licensed establishments and child care, as well as increasing gathering sizes to 15 people.
Moe said what can be expected is that in the days ahead they would determine a “target date” for reopening for Phase Three. That is a date those businesses could start to plan for and Moe said they would watch the numbers in the days ahead “so that we are able to adjust that target date if necessary, but the hope would be that we wouldn’t have to adjust that target date.”
Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer for the province, added “it’s always good to have two to three weeks, minimum two weeks but up to three weeks between phases, and maybe longer. I think we just need to let phase two re-open and then start planning phase three.”
PHASE TWO RE-OPENING BEGINS
Tuesday marked the re- opening of a wide range of retail businesses, select personal care services including haircutters, shopping malls, public markets and farmers markets.
Premier Moe and Dr. Shahab urged the public to continue to be vigilant.
“As Dr. Shahab said last week, COVID(-19) has not gone away, it may appear to hide for a short while but the threat continues and it remains.”
“We all have a responsibility to continue the good practises that has gotten us this far.”
Dr. Shahab pointed to the advice given earlier about going to grocery stores, with people urged to try and go at times when the crowding is less.
“The same principle should apply,” said Dr. Shahab about the latest businesses that were opening. For malls and other shops, people should go and get what they want, “not browse or try out a lot of things,” he said.
As for food courts, people getting food there should really take that food home and “not sit at other areas,” said Dr. Shahab.
In addition, Tuesday marked phase one of the Saskatchewan Health Authority resumption of health services that were paused at the start of the pandemic. The province states that those services resuming include outpatient physiotherapy appointments, kidney health services, some laboratory services, home care supports, and immunizations.
The province also announced that effective May 20, they were lifting the one month supply limit on prescription drugs that had been introduced March 18 to guard against drug shortages. Premier Moe said they are now confident they can lift this limit without jeopardizing the supply of prescription drugs.
According to a news release those with prescriptions for long-term medications can now get those filled as they had before the pandemic, except in limited situations where a specific drug remains in short supply.
RESTRICTIONS EASED UP NORTH, BUT REMAIN IN LA LOCHE/ NORTHWEST
The latest numbers saw the situation continue to stabilize in Saskatchewan’s north. The province recorded only seven new cases of COVID-19: four in Beauval and three in La Loche.
Citing that the risk of transmission has “regionalized” in the north district, and in consultation with community leaders in the north, the public health order and travel restrictions covering the north has been amended to only have those travel restrictions applied to the northwest region.
Communities where restrictions on travel remain in place are Bear Creek, Beauval, Birch Narrows, Dene Nation, Black Point, Buffalo Narrows, Buffalo River, Dene Nation, Canoe Lake First Nation, Clearwater River Dene Nation, Cole Bay, Descharme Lake, Dillon, Dore Lake, English River First Nation, Garson Lake, Green Lake, Ile a la Crosse, Jan’s Bay, Lac La Ronge, La Loche, Little Amyot Lake, Michel Village, Patuanak, St. George’s Hill, Sled Lake, and Turnor Lake, according to the province’s news release.Travel to and from the northeastern portion including the La Ronge area, Sandy Bay, Pelican Narrows and other points is permitted starting today.
According to the province the public health order for the Northwest includes further clarity to ensure people can obtain essential goods and services when travelling for medical purposes.
Premier Moe said they hoped to lift travel restrictions in the Northwest as well “in the not too distant future”. As for specifics on when the restrictions in the northwest might ease, Dr. Shahab said they needed case numbers to be “extremely low for at least two weeks,” and those that are must be linked to known cases.