Proving you are vaccinated or are negative for COVID-19 will be required in Saskatchewan as of October 1 in some businesses and for all government employees.
The province announced on Sept. 16 that new measures were needed to control the spread of the virus and to ease the burden on the health care system.
“For the past several months our government has been among the most patient in terms of providing our residents with the opportunity and access to the vaccines,” said Premier Scott Moe on Sept. 16.
“We have remained patient as a government and we have exhausted all these avenues because we know how effective vaccines can people when people choose to take one. But today that patience has come to an end. If you are unvaccinated and living in Saskatchewan, it’s time to get your shot.
He said that waiting for the 20 to 30 per cent of residents who remain unvaccinated has gone on long enough, before announcing restrictions on how unvaccinated people can go to locations such as restaurants or events.
“Now it is unfortunately going to create consequences for you,” said Moe in a Facebook address. “The vast majority of Saskatchewan people that have done the right thing are tired of those that have chosen not to do the right thing. Our province is not going to wait for you as we move forward.”
Effective October 1 a provincial requirement for proof of vaccination or negative test will be implemented for public access to a list of establishments, businesses and event venues that bring groups of people together, including:
-Indoor dining at restaurants;
-Nightclubs, bars, taverns and other licensed establishments;
-Event and entertainment venues, including conference centres, casinos, movie theatres, concert venues, live-music venues, museums, and indoor facilities hosting ticketed sporting events;
-Indoor fitness centres, and gyms.
Proof of vaccination will not be required for the following:
-Retail businesses, including grocery stores;
-Places of worship;
– Fast food restaurants offering takeout and delivery;
-Health care services, professional services, or personal services;
– Hotels or other lodging;
-Facilities hosting non-ticketed amateur sporting events, including youth athletics and recreational leagues;
-Business meetings and places of business closed to the general public, unless otherwise directed by the business or employer;
– Private gatherings held at an indoor public residence.
Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the proof of vaccination or negative test requirement.
A QR code will be launched on Sept. 20 to prove vaccination but people can also use the card they received when they got their vaccine or a screen shot of their digital vaccination record.
How the proof of negative test requirement will work is still being developed but will involve a negative PCR or rapid antigen test. The government will work immediately to provide rapid tests to be used at home.
“The idea that any resident or family will be able to easily obtain these rapid tests is the goal,” said Moe.
The province is planning to have the tests available from several locations operated by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and partner agencies.
Hospitalizations include all ages
Dr. Saqib Shahab gave an update on the situation in the hospitals, saying that all ages are being impacted, but the serious cases are in the unvaccinated population.
“Delta is twice as transmissible, twice as severe and is causing hospitalizations in the unvaccinated like never before.” Shahab.
The largest percentage of unvaccinated people are young people with 30 per cent not taking up the vaccine.
However, hospitalizations with Delta are happening in every age group.
At the moment, the age break down of COVID hospitalizations is: one under 11, two in the 12 – 19 group, six in their 20s, 12 in their 30s, 15 in their 40s, 21 in their 50s, 27 in their 60s, 27 in their 70d and 18 in those 80 and older.
Results of increased immunization will be apparent in about six weeks, but the reduction brought on by mandatory masking should be evident in the next five or so days, he said.
The start of the school year is also making a huge difference in the case numbers and the difference between the 2020 year and the 2021 year is the amount of COVID in the community.
“When we started school in 2020, case numbers were very low,” said Shahab “This time, school has started when case numbers are very high. It is astounding to see that 98 per cent of children who test positive are in households who are unvaccinated.”
Children that are 12 in this calendar year are eligible to be vaccinated.