In the continuing effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, face masks are now mandatory in all public places in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.
The measure came into force at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
The public health order was issued on Tuesday after a spike in coronavirus cases in the three Saskatchewan cities.
COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the past month in Saskatoon and Regina, and more than quadrupled in the Prince Albert region.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said mandatory masking is an additional measure to slow the upward coronavirus trend.
“The reason now (for the mask policy) is that our transmission rates are trending up, so the risk of transmitting is higher now than it has been before,” Shahab said on Tuesday.
Under the order, non-medical masks must be worn in all retail businesses, shopping centres and restaurants and bars except when eating or drinking.
The only exception is for children under the age of two, people actively engaged in physical exercise and anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Saskatchewan is averaging 78 new cases daily over the last seven days and Shahab is encouraging everyone in the province to wear a mask when they go out.
“It’s a simple gesture that says ‘I’m protecting you,’ because a lot of businesses, they have been wearing a mask to protect you,” he said.
“It’s a reciprocal gesture and I think it’s the least we can do now that our COVID transmission risk is higher.”
The order is in place for 28 days and is subject to review by Shahab.