REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government has expanded public health measures for Regina and area due to rising COVID-19 rates.

The city is leading the nation in variant cases – with a total of 891 cases of COVID-19 variants, as of Tuesday. COVID-19 cases in the Regina zone currently account for 51 per cent of active cases in the province.

“The last week it became obvious that what we're doing is not enough,” said the province’s chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, citing an upwards trend in ICU and hospital admissions in the city.

After restrictions were loosened two weeks ago, all private indoor gathering are once again limited to immediate household members, effective immediately. People who live alone will be allowed to meet with one household of less than five people.

Effective Sunday, all restaurants and bars must close for in-person dining; take-out and delivery is still allowed.

All non-essential indoor locations that had a 30 person limit must close.

Venues including banquet and community halls, conference facilities, arts venues, museums, libraries, live theatre, cinemas, arcades, bowling and science centres will also be forced to temporarily close.

The premier said the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment will be extended to businesses that are impacted.

According to the province, a travel advisory has been issued for Regina and the surrounding communities. Travel is not recommended in or out of the city unless “absolutely necessary.”

Places of worship will continue to have a 30 person limit. Dr. Shahab reminded residents to be “doubly diligent” when going to places that will remain open.

“If you do decide to go, follow all the protocols very diligently, mask use and hygiene, maintaining that two meter distance between people who are not in your household. That is going to be critical in Regina,” said Dr. Shahab.

The government is also “strongly recommending” that everyone in Regina and area work from home if they are able to.

The updated public health order and new recommendations apply to the city of Regina and the following communities and RMs: Belle Plaine, Pense, Grand Coulee, Lumsden Beach, Regina Beach, Craven, Lumsden, Edenwold, Pilot Butte, White City, Balgonie, Kronau, Davin, Gray, Riceton, RM of Lajord, RM of Edenwold, RM of Sherwood, RM of Pense and the RM of Lumsden.

The new public health order will remain in effect until April 5, however Premier Scott Moe said it is “very likely” the measures will be extended.