The City of Weyburn will broaden their policy of asking for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to all facilities, with a few small exceptions, to take effect on Monday, Nov. 8.
City council heard a presentation via Zoom from Dr. Stanley Enebeli, medical health officer for southeast Saskatchewan, and Trevor Tessier, director of primary health care for the Weyburn area for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, before passing the stringent new policy.
The two medical officials pointed out that the statistics continue to bear out that incidences of being hospitalized with COVID is much, much higher for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated residents, and said while case numbers are starting to decline right now, they are still very high compared to other parts of Canada, and they supported the measures the City was about to enact.
“Every little bit helps,” added Tessier.
For public access to facilities like City Hall, the police station, or the public works building and fire hall, the requirement for proof of vaccine or a negative test won’t be in place to access the building, but it will be to access council chambers at City Hall, or for any meetings longer than 15 minutes in these facilities.
Masks are required for all indoor spaces, with the exception of those who are participating in physical sports in the Spark Centre, the two arenas or the Leisure Centre, as long as they have provided proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. This also applies to officials for any competitions in these facilities, as they can remove their masks for the duration of the sport or activity.
A photo ID is required as well, and for youth aged 12 to 17, they will need to show ID unless accompanied by an adult who has proof of vaccination and an ID. If youth are without an adult, they can present other forms of government-issued ID.
In answer to council questions, leisure services director Andrew Crowe said spectators to a sport, such as at the Spark Centre or the arenas, do not have to have proof of vaccination or a negative test, but they do still have to wear a mask.
He noted that many of the recreation sport leagues in Weyburn that he’s talked to, such as for soccer, volleyball and hockey, have supported the requirement for proof of vaccines or a negative test.
“Should this recommendation go into effect, those who are not vaccinated will not be permitted access to the facility in the same area as those who are not wearing a mask (during a sport activity),” said Crowe.
Mayor Marcel Roy asked if this means that even with a mask on, the unvaccinated wouldn’t be allowed to take part in a sport, and was told this is correct.
Mayor Roy said at least these rules don’t go as far as the bigger cities like Saskatoon and Prince Albert are enacting.
“Let’s not go over the top like the major urbans are doing,” he said.
In regard to council chambers, city manager Mathew Warren was asked what would happen if an unvaccinated person who does not have a negative test needs to speak to council or take part in a council meeting. He said if this was the situation, they would look into other options, such as attending by Zoom.
Coun. Jeff Richards acknowledged that these requirements are not the ideal situation, but he pointed out these are much better than bringing restrictions back in like what was in place last year, commenting, “This is an easier pill to swallow, if you pardon the pun.”
“We are trying to follow what’s in the guidelines right now. We have discussions with the province and the business response team is available for us to ask questions,” said Warren.
Council unanimously passed the recommendations for the new COVID protocol.