Proof of vaccination not necessary for events in province: Moe

Herald File Photo.

As vaccinations against COVID-19 continue and the province prepares to enter the second phase of their reopening plan, Premier Scott Moe said in a press conference Tuesday that larger venues will not be requiring proof of vaccination.

“Of course, our government is strongly encouraging every eligible person to take the time to go out and get vaccinated but it would be a potential violation of health information privacy if we were ask anyone for the proof of vaccination in order to attend an event,” Moe said.

“We are going to learn to live with COVID, we aren’t going to get through or cure COVID in any way. We are going to learn to live with it,” he added.

“If you choose to not be vaccinated … you are choosing to live with much higher risk of not only getting COVID, but ultimately getting quite ill from COVID than if you make a very different choice, which is to make yourself available to the vaccines that are available to Saskatchewan people.”

Moe reiterated later that the decision was based on policy as opposed to other matters.

“We don’t govern by polls we govern by proper policy as well as what we can and can’t do with respect to privacy information. I believe there was a story this morning from the Privacy Commissioner on requirements around producing information on whether or not you are vaccinated. The same would hold true for large public events as well,” he explained.

Moe said that when the next phase of the plan hits on July 11 the current emergency order would no longer be in place. Restrictions and proof of vaccination would continue to exist for things like international travel, but nothing would exist at a provincial level.

“It’s entirely possible that you are going to require to have a proof of COVID vaccination in much the same way that you do now to attain a Visa to visit some of these countries,” Moe said.

“We most certainly don’t have the ability then to demand that people show a proof of vaccination for whether or not they would attend any large event here in the province.”

Moe stated that over the last few weeks, the SHA and pharmacies have done incredible work vaccinating the eligible population. In the last week more than 131,000 residents have received either their first or second vaccination. Roughly 13 per cent of all eligible residents have received a vaccine in the last seven days.

Moe touted Saskatchewan to be the first province in Canada to have 40 per cent of its population fully vaccinated. If that pace continues, Moe said 60 per cent of the population could be fully vaccinated by July 11, and 70 per cent would be fully vaccinated by the end of July.

“This is not a one dose summer in any way,” he told reporters. “It is a two dose summer. It is a great summer for the vast majority of Saskatchewan residents.”

Moe said the rising numbers of vaccinated people are also having a positive effect on COVID-19 cases in the province. Saskatchewan’s seven-day average for new cases is down to 46—an 84 per cent drop from the third wave peak of 287 in mid-April.

“That is a direct result of so many people doing their part, yes following the measures, but also going out and getting vaccinated,” Moe said.

He added that vaccine supply is currently at such as level that it is available to everyone with clinics around the province.

“There is really no reason for you to not be vaccinated other than your own personal choice. If you are making that choice I would say that you are making a mistake,” he said.

Next week the province plans to release updated breakdowns on how vaccination numbers affect COVID cases. The data will show the total number of cases in vaccinated, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

“ I am sure it will show, as it did in May, that the overwhelming majority of people who are now contracting COVID and are becoming seriously ill are ultimately unvaccinated people,” he said.

Moe then pointed to recently released numbers from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which show 95 per cent of new cases since vaccines became widely available are in residents who refuse to get jabbed. Another four per cent were from partially vaccinated people, and only half of one per cent were from those who were fully vaccinated.

Moe said the effectiveness of the vaccines and the trend of decreasing case numbers were also a factor in the decision to move to step three on July 11.

“We are feeling quite well where we are at with our Re-opening Roadmap in Saskatchewan,” he said. “We are feeling very well about moving to step three and the removal of all public health orders by July 11. At that point there will be no restrictions on gathering sizes, no requirements to wear a mask. Although you may want to continue to wear a mask, in particular if you are not fully vaccinated, that will be totally up to you.”

At that point, the decision to remove restrictions in businesses for employees and customers will be up to individual businesses. Moe said that the Business Response Team and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab have been working on guidelines which will be released after July 11.

“Once all of the mandatory rules and restrictions are removed on July 11 those guidelines will then be released and posted on the government website over the course of the next few days,” Moe said.

Shahab said that there is still sporadic cases where vaccination rates are lower than the SHA would like them to be.

“That is mostly the Prince Albert area, the North West part of the province, as well as the Far North. Vaccination rates are increasing throughout the province particularly into the north and Far North, there are many communities with very high vaccination rates,” Shahab said.

For parts of the north where there are issues the SHA and service partners in the north are bringing vaccines.

“When we seeing when vaccines are brought there is a serious increase in uptake even in pockets which are under-vaccinated. I think that momentum needs to continue to make the entire province safe for our reopening in step three,” he explained.