'Significant 1-month slow down': Masks mandatory in Sask., indoor gatherings reduced to 5
REGINA -- The Government of Saskatchewan has made masks mandatory province wide, as part of multiple updates to public health measures.
Other updates include a reduction in indoor private gathering size, suspending visitation at care homes and work from home recommendations.
These measures will remain in effect until Dec. 17, when the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer will review the next steps.
“Our numbers in this province are not good and the trend is going in the wrong direction,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said, during a press conference Tuesday.
“We have too many new cases, we have too many in intensive care, and we need to do what we can to get these numbers down.”
The government said it continues to review guidelines for the hospitality industry and athletic organizations, but does not have any new recommendations.
“This is not a lockdown. This is a slowdown, a significant one month slow down,” Moe said.
“This one month slow down is how we will slow the spread of this virus so that hopefully we can begin to relax some of these decisions in time for the Christmas and holiday season.”
These measures will come into effect as of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19.
“We’re looking for compliance of the public health orders and the recommendations that are put in place today. They do work, they’ve been proven to work, not just in Saskatchewan, but in other areas of Canada and the world,” Moe said.
Wearing a mask will now be mandatory in all indoor public space in Saskatchewan.
The province also recommends wearing masks whenever you are outside your home. You can find a list of what qualifies as an indoor public space on the government’s website.
Moe said the province-wide mask order is an effort to cut down on confusion about the policy from Saskatchewan residents.
“What we heard… was the policy that we’ve put in place was confusing, and we should just keep it simple and expand that across the province.” Moe said.
If you are unsure if a location qualifies as an indoor public space, the government said to defer to wearing a mask.
“I think the fact that we now need to wear masks in all indoor places should have a significant impact,” Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer, said.
Shahab noted it is everyone’s responsibility to continue to abide by other recommendations while outside of their homes, including maintaining physical distance, hand hygiene and wearing a mask.
“These actions alone can have a significant impact, we hope, on our case numbers.”
GATHERING SIZES REDUCED
The province is also reducing the allowable maximum gathering size for private gatherings. Starting Thursday, the maximum gathering size in-home or other buildings located on private property will decrease to five people, down from 10.
If your immediate family includes five or more people, the government said you cannot have additional visitors.
The province is also discouraging gatherings of any size beyond your immediate household.
Outdoor private gatherings remain at a 30 person maximum if a physical distance of two metres can be maintained.
VISITATION AT SASK. CARE HOMES
Visitation has also been suspended in all long-term care facilities and personal care homes in the province.
The province said exceptions for compassionate reasons will be exempt, as part of the current family visitation policy.
“We had many weeks without a single case in a personal care home and assisted living facility. Now in the last one month, we’ve had 13 confirmed cases,” Shahab said.
Shahab noted the rising transmission in care homes is a reflection of high transmission rates in Saskatchewan communities.
WORKING FROM HOME
Due to continued workplace transmission throughout Saskatchewan, the province is now highly recommending that people work from home if possible.
If you are currently working from home, the government said you should continue to do so.