Province planning for phase 3 of reopening economy to start June 8

Phase includes the reopening of bars, restaurants, fitness facilities and places of worship

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. (Herald file photo)

Updated as of 5:37 p.m., Thursday, May 21.

The government is giving businesses like restaurants and gyms the go ahead to reopen in just over two weeks should COVID-19 numbers stay put.

Phase three of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, set to begin on June 8, also includes bars, places of worship, childcare facilities and remaining personal services that did not open in the first phase. These services are estheticians, tattoo artists, electrologists and sun tanning parlours, to name a few.

These businesses must follow restrictions, though, just like those that are currently open.

Restaurants and bars must operate at 50 per cent capacity. They’re also limited to table service, with buffets and salad bars to remain closed. Recreation areas, such as dance floors, pool tables and darts, will also stay shuttered for the time being.

Childcare facilities will be capped at 15 children per building space and, for childcare within long-term and personal care homes, there will be no common area to prevent potential spread of COVID-19 between vulnerable populations.

Currently, public and private gatherings must be under 10 people. But, on June 8, indoor gatherings will increase to a maximum of 15 people and outdoor gatherings to 30.

“We feel very confident for most of Saskatchewan that with the efforts that everyone has put in, we are at a place where we can move that (limit) up even a bit to phase three, especially for outdoor gatherings,” said Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

SARCAN is also preparing to resume its recycling operations. Beginning June 8, commercial and bulk customers will be able to bring in their recycling by appointment, and SARCAN will be open to the general public on June 15.

Premier Scott Moe emphasized that June 8 is the target date, and that it may change, likely just in parts of the province, if an outbreak occurs. The plan has been delayed so far in the outbreak areas of La Loche and briefly in Lloydminster.

“We’ve just begun phase two, so it’s too early to tell what impact, if any, it will have on our numbers, but we thought it was important to announce the date now so those phase three businesses can begin preparing,” said Moe.

Shahab said public health officials have been closely monitoring the impact of lifting restrictions and will continue to do so as phase three begins.

If cases start to increase, he said, they will have to consider the source of transmission—and that likely won’t affect all of the businesses reopening.

“Our colleagues who do the contact tracing go into details about what you did, where did you go in the last 14 days and that helps us to inform us and then everyone (in) the public in terms of ‘What really is the risk?’” said Shahab.

“The risk may be very specific and that should not really jeopardize a whole sector that’s reopening, but we can give feedback to that specific sector.”

Guidelines for specific businesses will be posted on the provincial government’s website on Friday. Additionally, guidelines for the reopening of places of worship will be developed in consultation with faith leaders.

Shahab said since the start of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, the province has received reports of crowding in businesses.

“We still need to pay attention to the little things—physical distancing, hand washing before and after, not going out if you’re sick. Those are things we’ve all learned to do well and we need to continue to do well to make sure we all succeed moving forward in this new normal,” added Shahab.

“The success comes down to each of us as individuals,” said Moe.

Two new COVID-19 cases, 15 more recoveries on Thursday

Along with its plans to begin phase three, the provincial government reported two new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more recoveries on Thursday. Both of the new cases are in the far north.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 509 people have recovered in Saskatchewan.

With the small number of new cases, the active case count for the province decreased from 120 on Wednesday to 106 on Thursday. Ninety-three of the active cases are in the far north.

Currently, there are five people in hospital. Two are receiving inpatient care, one in Saskatoon and one in Regina, and three others in Saskatoon are in the ICU.

Of all the 622 cases that have been reported in the province:

  • 139 cases are related to travel, 348 are community contacts (including mass gatherings), 72 have no known exposures and 63 are under investigation by local public health.
  • 49 cases are health care workers; however, the source of the infections isn’t related to their work place in all instances.
  • 244 of the cases are from the far north, 165 are from the Saskatoon area, 110 are from the north, 76 are from the Regina area, 15 are from the south and 12 are from the central region.
  • 89 cases involve people 19 years of age and under, 223 cases are in the 20-39 age range, 188 are in the 40-59 age range, 104 are in the 60-79 age range and 18 are in the 80-plus range.
  • 51 per cent of the cases are females and 49 per cent are males.
  • Seven deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported to date.

To date, 42,443 COVID-19 tests have been performed in the province.