REGINA -- The Government of Saskatchewan has announced its plan to gradually reopen the province as the COVID-19 curve has begun to flatten, which means people can start gathering with their friends and family again.

The number of people permitted to gather at once will change as the phases progress.

On Friday, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the number permitted to gather has never technically dropped below 10, and that’s where it remains for phases one and two of the reopening plan.

“Many of us - in small households, medium-sized households, large households - have not met anyone outside of our households for 4-6 weeks, and that has been a major contribution to flattening the curve,” Dr. Shahab said. ”Now we can relax a bit and meet within two or three households.”

Dr. Shahab calls the idea a “virtual household.”

A virtual household is when one household of people comes together with another one or two homes - neighbours, grandparents, friends, etc. - allowing up to ten people.

That virtual household can get together while still practicing physical distancing when possible.

The concept of a virtual household helps with contact tracing if it’s necessary.

“If you meet with two or three households up to 10 people over two weeks, if for some reason someone was to develop COVID-19, you all will just have 10 contacts to follow up,” he said. “However if someone started meeting with 10 random people every day for 14 days, and then develop COIVD-19, you’d then be in a situation with 140 contacts to follow up.”

Things to consider when forming your virtual household include: is everyone healthy? Is anyone at high risk? Keep the household consistent, keep it limited to people you know and trust and be cautious with shared items.

Virtual Household Guidelines - Saskatchewan April

Saskatchewan’s NDP leader Ryan Meili said it’s important for everyone to have a clear understanding of the guidelines to keep the COVID-19 curve as flat as possible.

“It’s not over and if we start to act over confident, if we start to act like it’s over, we are setting ourselves up for a very bad outcome,” Meili said on Friday.

In phase one, which starts on May 4, and throughout phase two, public and private gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed.

In phase three, which a date has not yet been set for, the maximum will increase to 15 people.

In phase four, it will increase to 30 people.

The details for phase five have not yet been released.