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Sask. to remove proof of vaccination policy Monday, masking rules expiring at the end of the month

The Government of Saskatchewan announced plans to remove its COVID-19 proof of vaccination and masking policies over the course of the next month.

Premier Scott Moe announced the proof of vaccination policy will be eliminated at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 14, during a press conference Tuesday. Masking will remain in effect until the end of February.

“The reason we’re able to remove this policy is its run its course. It has increased our vaccination rates in the province substantially since it was introduced,” Moe said.

The province said proof of vaccination records and QR codes will continue to be available for use during travel or in other jurisdictions.

Moe said he thinks the proof of vaccination policy created division in the province, but noted that the benefits “did outweigh the costs.”

“Today we deal with a very different strain, the Omicron variant, and the benefits of this policy no longer outweigh the costs,” Moe said.

The proof of vaccination or negative test policy was implemented in September, during what Moe called the “very severe Delta wave.”

“The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible and has a shorter incubation period with many cases remaining asymptomatic. Evidence is showing greatly enhanced protection against severe illness and hospitalization with a third/booster dose of vaccine,” the province said in a release.

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, encouraged residents to start visualizing how they will manage themselves and their families, once these rules are removed.

“If our trends continue, there will be a time where mask use will not be a mandatory order and we should start thinking about at work, at school, what our decisions would be for ourselves, our children,” Shahab said.

The province also said that all Saskatchewan residents, including those 12-17 are now able to receive a booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Eligible Saskatchewan residents are “strongly” encouraged to continue to get vaccinated, if they have not already done so.

The premier highlighted the “continuing need” for personal responsibility for COVID-19 risk assessment among Saskatchewan residents.

“Whenever someone is doing their own risk assessment, which we have asked them to do in this province for a period of time now, they’re doing that assessment for themselves, possibly for their family, and they may come back with a different decision than what you might arrive at,” Moe said.

On Monday, the province eliminated daily case updates and the COVID-19 dashboard, opting for weekly updates instead.

Access to PCR tests is now only available through a recommendation from HealthLine 811 and is reserved for people the province said are considered “vulnerable.”

Moe said mandatory self-isolation rules are attached to the expiring public health orders and will also stop at the end of the month.

The current public health orders were set to expire at the end of February.

'Stop this move towards hiding information': Sask. NDP

The Saskatchewan NDP said this decision continues to prove the government’s pattern of trying to be the first province to ease restrictions throughout the pandemic.

“We all want to see life go back to normal, we all want to see these inconveniences removed, we want to see it at a time when it’s safe,” Ryan Meili, the leader of the NDP, said. “It’s very hard to trust Scott Moe. To trust that he’s making the right choices for Saskatchewan people. It’s hard because we have that pattern.”

The NDP is calling on the province to change the way it shares information with the public. It’s calling for a clear roadmap to ease restrictions and bring them back if it’s required, clear recommendations from Dr. Shahab and for daily COVID-19 data reports to be reimplemented.

“Stop this move towards hiding information at a time when that information is more important than ever,” Meili said. Top Stories

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