REGINA — Premier Scott Moe has announced that all current public health orders related to COVID-19 will be staying in place through the holiday season, to continue to curb transmission in the province.
The public health orders, first introduced on Sept. 16, will be extended until Jan. 31 at which time they will once again be reviewed.
This includes the indoor masking mandate, isolation requirements after a positive test and the proof of vaccination or negative test policy in place for public spaces.
Moe and chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab made the announcement on Nov. 25 during a press conference in Regina.
“We feel the measures in place today have been effective and most certainly are necessary,” said Moe.
Moe said that the decision to extend to the end of January was made to include all holidays in the season, including Ukrainian Christmas celebrations.
Both Moe and Shahab said that the decision to maintain current health orders was encouraged by the province’s transmission rates, which Moe said are down 80 per cent from a peak several weeks ago.
“What we’re doing as Saskatchewan people, as individuals, is working collectively across this province, but we need to keep doing it a little while longer,” said Moe.
Extending the measures through the holidays is a safety precaution, said Moe, to allow Saskatchewan residents to still gather with loved ones in some capacity.
“Dr. Shahab and others have expressed concern that we could see case numbers start to rise again, as people get together and gather, in particular over the holiday season,” said Moe.
Transmission rates did not spike following the Thanksgiving holiday, said Moe, leading to the decision to allow some gathering over the winter holidays.
“If everyone continues to be diligent, continue to exercise a degree of caution and continues to go out and get vaccinated, we should be able to get together safely over the holiday season,” said Shahab.
Residents are encouraged to plan their gatherings only with vaccinated individuals and to still exercise caution about distancing. Vaccination is also still important, said Shahab, and must continue.
Moe also warned residents that the review of measures in January is not a deadline for their removal, but a reassessment based on factors at that time.
“I don’t think anyone should be under any illusions that these health measures would not be extended at that point in time,” said Moe. “They’ve proven to be quite effective.”
Both Shahab and Provincial Emergency Operations Centre lead Marlo Pritchard have been teasing the announcement during provincial COVID updates for several weeks, stating the premier would need to officially announce such a decision.