The Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday that the next phase of Phase 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan will begin next Monday, July 6 and continue on July 9.
During the regular COVID-19 press conference Premier Scott Moe and Dr. Saqib Shahab announced the next phase.
Beginning Monday, July 6, indoor pools, indoor rinks, indoor sports and activities, and the performing arts – including music, dance and theatre – will be able to re-open.
“With these re-openings virtually every kind of business, facility, service and activity in this province are now reopened. Again, I would like thank everyone in Saskatchewan for what you have done to control the spread of COVID-19, it is appreciated. I want to thank you for your patience as well as we moved as quickly as possible, but also as safely as possible through the reopening phases and I want to encourage everyone to continue all of the good practices that have gotten us this far,” Moe said during Tuesday’s press availability
With large gatherings being part of the next phase Moe urged caution.
“It can spread very quickly if we let our guard down even for a moment and that’s why we still have to remain so careful and why we will need to move forward very cautiously with phase five which is lifting the restrictions on large gatherings. We know that in Saskatchewan and elsewhere large gatherings have resulted in some of the largest outbreaks. So we will need to be very cautious in relaxing those restrictions,” Moe said.
The seating capacity for restaurants and licensed establishments will also increase that same day to a level that allows staff and customers to maintain two metres of physical distance.
“I think the principles of the seating capacity was to allow restaurants to make their business plan,” Shahab said.
He explained that the Authority heard from restaurants that they could increase capacity while maintaining physical distancing.
On Thursday, July 9, casinos and bingo halls are able to re-open for business.
The guidelines for businesses and activities re-opening on July 6 and July 9 are included in this week’s update to the plan to re-open the provincial economy.
Racetracks and rodeo-related activities are targeted to resume on July 16.
Guidelines are being developed and will include guidance related to spectators.
In addition to an increased seating capacity, video lottery terminals (VLTs), pool tables, dart boards, arcade games and other recreation areas will be able to re-open on July 6 as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
Increased cleaning and disinfection will also be required. Live entertainment in these establishments is targeted to return on July 16. Guidelines are currently being developed.
The next step could be further away according to Shahab.
“The only thing that remains after phase four is done is the limiting on the public gatherings,” he said.
According to Shahab any changes to gathering sizes will happen after ongoing input. Shahab advised again to continue using correct practices like hand washing and physical distancing under phase five as long as there is a pandemic.
Moe explained that a possible contact tracing app may be part of the discussion to increase crowd sizes both in Saskatchewan and across the country.
“We just don’t have all those tools to let’s say have a Saskatchewan Roughrider game,” Moe said.
Moe explained that he has a Montreal Canadiens mask that was provided by Quebec Premier Francois Legault and he was going to send a Saskatchewan Roughriders’ mask to Legault. Later he noted that the Canadiens mask was the only one he owned.
“Mask using as far as it being mandatory may be a conversation we may have to have in certain areas of the province if we should have a localized outbreak,” Moe said.
Moe said that they would have that discussion prior to doing things like closing down sections of the province.
According to Moe the SHA is also working on guidelines for visiting family in long term care homes and hospitals.
“We still have to be very careful in those facilities as that is where some of our greatest outbreaks around the world have occurred. So we are working to find the right balance that will keep everyone safe. While recognizing how critically important it is for hospital patients and seniors in long term care homes to be able to see members of their family and we expect an announcement on this later this week,” Moe said.
Both Shahab and Moe encouraged people to continue to use best practices.
“All I would like to say is that we know the routine or the drill now in terms of maintaining physical distancing as we go out and about and enjoying all of the activities that are now going to be opening up next week and over the next two weeks as well,” Shahab said.
“If we do follow the basic principles if they go out and about and seeking testing the first time that symptoms, maintaining physical distancing where it is possible, using a reusable mask where appropriate and otherwise complying with all of the guidelines. We certainly hope to see very few cases or outbreaks over all,” he added.
Fall Planning for Post-Secondary Institutions
Fall planning for post-secondary institutions is underway in consultation with public health. The institutions will be communicating to their campus communities in the near future.
As restrictions are gradually lifted in the province, additional information will continue to be added to the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan based on direction from public health officials and input from businesses and service providers.
Saskatchewan residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and follow their recommendations to ensure the province can continue to re-open in a safe manner without a significant increase in the transmission of COVID-19.