Premier Moe unveils roadmap to reopening

Premier Scott Moe laid out the details of the coming “road back to normal” Tuesday at the province’s news conference.

Moe provided a re-opening road map on how they plan to lift the current public health orders in place in the province. It will be a three-step plan, dependent on several vaccination benchmarks being set.

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The first step is when vaccine eligibility is open to all adults provincewide and three weeks after 70 per cent of people age 40 and above have received their first dose.

Step two takes place three weeks after 70 per cent of people age 30 have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and at least three weeks after Step One.

Step three occurs three weeks after 70 per cent of people age 18 and above have received their first dose. As well, a minimum three weeks must have occurred moving from step two to three.

Moe said that in step one, changes to public health orders will include:

Restaurants and bars can have maximum of six at a table, with physical distancing in place;

Places of worship can have 30 per cent of capacity or 150 people, whichever is less, with physical distancing between households;

Intense group fitness classes can resume, with three metres between participants;

Household bubbles will be expanded to 10 people at private indoor and outdoor gatherings, including household gatherings;

Public indoor gatherings up to 30 people;

Up to 150 people at public outdoor gatherings; and

Current province-wide masking mandate remains in place.

In Step Two, more public health measures are planned to be eased including as follows:

Increase to 15 people at private indoor gatherings including household gatherings;

150 people maximum at public indoor gatherings and private and public outdoor gatherings

150-person maximum at event facilities including casinos, bingo halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries and recreational facilities;

No capacity thresholds on retail and personal care services, but they must maintain an occupancy that allows for physical distancing;

No table size limits at restaurants and bars but must maintain two metres of physical distancing or structural barriers between tables, dance floors and buffets remain closed;

All remaining restrictions on youth and adult sports will be lifted;

Current province-wide masking mandate remains in place.

In Step Three, most remaining restrictions will be lifted.  Guidance on gathering sizes and indoor masking policy will be developed in the coming weeks based on progress of the first two steps.  Public health orders on gathering sizes and indoor masking will remain in place until that guidance is finalized.

Based on current rates of vaccination Moe said the province should enter Step One the last week of May, Step Two in the third week of June, and Step Three in early to mid-July.

For those saying the pace was too fast, Moe pointed to other countries, particularly the United Kingdom, which has safely moved through their reopening plan which Moe said was “very close to what we have today.” He noted the UK expects to move into Step Three of their reopening plan and lift all remaining public health orders by June 21. Case numbers there have continued to decline.

“We are not stopping or in any easy slowing down our vaccination plans once we’ve reached the various thresholds we’ve put forward,” said Moe. In fact, the plan was to increase the pace and keep going until all Saskatchewan residents have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.

"We need everyone to go back and get your second dose," Moe said.

Moe said that in May they expect to receive 367,000 more vaccines, and those will continue to go into peoples’ arms as quickly as possible. Eligibility was expanded to all those age 37 and over as of Tuesday, and 18 and older in the North.

As more vaccines are received the province will continue to lower the age eligibility, said Moe.

Moe said he knew there were people still “on the fence” on whether to get a vaccine. “It’s time for you to get off that fence,” said Moe, who said every day vaccines were saving people’s lives. “This should be one of the easiest decisions you’ll make in your life. On one side of that fence, people are living. On the other side of that fence, people are dying. It’s quite simple for all of us.”

Saskatchewan chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said while there was a 70 percent vaccination threshold for the reopening plan, it remained their goal to achieve an even higher rate than that.

He called May and June their “blockbuster months” for vaccine supply. “How can we say no to this privilege,” Dr. Shahab said. “It is a fundamental additional layer that will helps us come out of this third wave and see a better summer and a better fall.”

Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to come out with a full re-opening plan. When asked why, Premier Moe cited a number of reasons but noted "this is the request that we are hearing as representatives across the province." 

They were hearing questions about how following the public health measures and getting vaccinated would see them back to some level of normal in their communities.  Moe said the plan was proven to work in other nations, and it does have a finish line in sight and a clear path on how to achieve that finish line.

Moe also said he believed Saskatchewan residents will go far past the 70 percent vaccination percentile as an adult population, saying "Saskatchewan people understand very well the responsibility that comes with the rights that we enjoy in this province."   

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