Premier Scott Moe has made an order under the provincial State of Emergency limiting the size of public and private gatherings to a maximum of ten people.
That was announced at a news conference Wednesday with Moe as well as provincial chief medical officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. Some additional clarity was also provided surrounding what are allowable business services and what is not allowable, in consultation with the Chief Medical Health Officer.
Highlights are the following:
Effective March 26, public and private gatherings more than 10 people in one room are prohibited. Exceptions are provided where two metre distancing between people can be maintained, including retail deemed essential.
A new list of “critical public services and business services” that are allowed to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic was released. That list, effective March 26, includes health care and public health workers; law enforcement, public safety and first responders; production, processing and manufacturing and the supporting supply chains; transportation and logistics; government and community services; media and telecommunications; construction including maintenance and repair; select retail services; and banking and financial services.
Effective March 26, the province announced a list of non-allowable business services that are not included on the list of those allowed to continue operating. These include: clothing stores; shoe stores; flower shops; sporting good and adventure stores; vaping supply shops; boats, ATV, or snowmobile retailers; gift, book, or stationary stores; jewelry and accessory stores; toy stores; music, electronic and entertainment stores; pawn shops; and travel agencies.
The province stated in a news release that this list of non-allowable businesses is in addition to the business services ordered closed on March 23: restaurants, food courts, cafeterias; personal service facilities; all recreational and entertainment facilities; and dental, optometrist, chiropractic, registered massage therapy and podiatry clinics except for non-elective procedures.
Premier Moe did say that if any business is uncertain if they are allowed to stay open it will be posted on the government of Saskatchewan website. If they are still unsure of if they feel their business is essential and should be allowed to stay open, they can contact the government’s business response team.
As well, these non-allowable business services could make the choice to continue online or as a delivery service, as long as safe social distancing measures are in place. Moe said flower shops could still do deliveries, for example.
Premier Moe said everyone was trying to find the right balance between social distancing and keeping the economy going.
“We are already seeing Saskatchewan businesses adapting and evolve. Saskatchewan businesses are creating a new economy, a social distancing economy,” said Moe.
"We are asking a lot but it is necessary and it will reduce the risk."
When reporters asked questions of the Premier, questions came up about why the province was allowing liquor stores to stay open. This was in response to a call by Prince Albert mayor Greg Dionne to have liquor stores closed.
In response Moe said there had been a discussion about publicly-owned liquor stores, but the reasons Moe cited for keeping them open was that it was "no time to add to any of our detox capacity," in reference to concerns about addictions withdrawal, as well as to avoid driving customers to a smaller number of private liquor stores, which would add to the number of people in those stores.