Coronavirus: Saskatchewan limits gatherings to 10 people, moves to limit more businesses

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Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan now prohibiting public gatherings greater than 10 people
WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced on Wednesday that the province now forbids public gatherings of more than 10 people in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 – Mar 25, 2020

The Saskatchewan government is taking further steps to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus by reducing the maximum size of gatherings from 25 people to 10 people and mandating certain businesses to close.

Starting Thursday, the government is limiting the size of public and private gatherings to a maximum of 10 people in one room.

However, some exceptions are being made for businesses that are considered essential services.

“As we impose further restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19, we know this creates challenges for businesses in Saskatchewan and we know that providing as much clarity as possible is important,” Premier Scott Moe said in a statement Wednesday.

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“We are already seeing the creation of a social distancing economy in Saskatchewan as many businesses adapt their service delivery to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan now prohibiting public gatherings greater than 10 people'
Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan now prohibiting public gatherings greater than 10 people

Critical businesses include: health-care and public health workers; law enforcement, public safety and first responders; production, processing and manufacturing and the supporting supply chains; transportation and logistics; government and community services; media and telecommunications; construction, including maintenance and repair; select retail services; and banking and financial services.

Other businesses that are not on the list cannot provide public-facing services, the province said. Under these measures, businesses will be able to expand into e-commerce or provide pickup or delivery services to customers.

Businesses prohibited from public-facing services include: clothing stores; shoe stores; flower shops; sporting good and adventure stores; vaping supply shops; boat, ATV or snowmobile retailers; gift, book, or stationery stores; jewelry and accessory stores; toy stores; music, electronic and entertainment stores; pawnshops; and travel agencies.

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Toll-free line launched for non-health-related questions

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On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) launched a toll-free phone line for people who have general questions about the COVID-19 pandemic that are not related to health issues.

Residents can now call 1-855-559-5502 (or 306-787-8539 for Regina residents) to access an operator.

The line will be staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. by emergency operators who will be able to answer questions or point people to information ranging from government services to travel restrictions.

“We expect this new line to free up room for 811 healthcare professionals to reach more people who may be experiencing medical issues,” SPSA president Marlo Pritchard said in a statement.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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