Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe said the province is well below the national average for COVID-19 cases, prompting the plan to slowly start lifting the restrictions so that businesses and employees can go back to work.
“I think what we need to understand is the very different situation we find ourselves in, in different parts of Canada. Here in Saskatchewan, we’re 70% below the national average with positive credentials, “said Moe in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Thursday.
“We have worked very hard to identify and put in place contact tracing efforts to ensure that we can isolate any COVID-19 cases that do break out from time to time and so what we have done is that we had a conversation about how we could slowly retreat into our economy. “
Saskatchewan’s reopening plan outlines a five-step path to slowly start lifting restrictions for businesses. Although he gives fixed dates for the first two phases, he indicates that the third phase will be based on the results.
“The date for phase three will be decided in much the same way in collaboration with our chief physician and others, and our Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Association; once we have had time to look at what’s going on, has the situation changed after phase two, ”said Moe.
“That doesn’t mean there is a slight increase in numbers here and there … We expect localized pushes, whether or not we continue with this Saskatchewan reopening plan, we are well positioned to deal with it and isolate those too. “
To date, Saskatchewan has reported 326 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.
Some other provinces are considering reopening parts of their economies as the spread of the virus becomes manageable, but Saskatchewan says it is the first to publish a detailed plan with dates and a calendar.
“Some may fear that it is far too early, that reopening businesses in the coming weeks may increase the availability of COVID-19,” Moe said at a press conference.
“We need to find common ground that continues to keep our caseload low and keep the people of Saskatchewan safe while allowing businesses to reopen and the people of Saskatchewan to return to work.”
The restrictions must be lifted first for medical services such as dentists, optometrists and physiotherapy on May 4. This also applies to fishing and boat launches.
Golf courses may be allowed to reopen on May 15, followed on May 19 by retail stores selling clothes, flowers, books, sporting goods and toys.
The government says hairdressers, barbers, massage therapists and acupuncturists may also start seeing clients again that day, but employees working directly with clients should wear masks.
The plan calls for businesses to maintain strict standards of cleanliness as well as physical distance. Operators would be asked to screen customers and wear masks and gloves if these measures were not possible.
Next, the authorities are reportedly considering lifting restrictions on indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities and increasing the size of authorized gatherings to 30 of the current 10 people.
The final phase of the plan includes lifting crowding restrictions, long-term care facility visits and non-essential travel. Moe has already said that these will stay in place for a while.
The government’s plan does not include a timetable for when gymnasiums can be allowed to operate or when daycare capacity can be increased.
It also doesn’t give time to reopen food services and restaurants, but when they do, they’ll have to run at half their capacity.
“You are going to see significant changes and some will last forever,” said Moe.
-With BNN Bloomberg files.