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Mask mandate comes into effect provincewide as Saskatchewan tries to tame COVID-19

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Saskatchewan extends mandatory mask order to entire province, suspends long-term care visitations' Coronavirus: Saskatchewan extends mandatory mask order to entire province, suspends long-term care visitations
WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe on Tuesday called the new COVID-19 measures that were implemented a “significant one-month slowdown,” saying it is “how we will slow the spread of this virus,” so the province can begin to “hopefully” relax some restrictions by the holidays – Nov 17, 2020

Saskatchewan became the second prairie province on Thursday to implement a mask mandate provincewide, following in the same steps as Manitoba.

Masks are now required in all indoor public places across Saskatchewan.

Read more: Saskatchewan looks to feds for help as contact tracing becomes challenging

The new measures come as the province tries to tame the spread of COVID-19 as hospitalizations have reached new highs almost daily throughout November.

“We want to bend the curve before Christmas, and avoid a lockdown,” Premier Scott Moe said on Tuesday when the mandate was first announced.

“That’s our ultimate goal. I think Saskatchewan people would expect their government to utilize every tool they have in their toolbox to avoid a lockdown.”

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Saskatchewan limits private household gatherings to 5 people amid pandemic' Coronavirus: Saskatchewan limits private household gatherings to 5 people amid pandemic
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan limits private household gatherings to 5 people amid pandemic – Nov 17, 2020

Despite the NDP and health-care workers calling on an immediate circuit-breaker lockdown to slow transmission, the province is confident the new measures will work.

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“We feel this is the right approach at this time,” Moe said.

The province has also suspended visitation at long-term care homes except for compassionate reasons. Furthermore, indoor private gathering sizes have been reduced from 10 people to five.

Read more: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe rejects NDP call for immediate circuit-breaker lockdown

While businesses are able to continue operating as usual, party buses along with hookah services have been banned.

The new measures remain in effect until at least Dec. 17 upon further review from the province’s chief medical health officer.

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The government says it will announce more guidelines next week following consultations with businesses, places of worship and athletic organizations.

“We’re here to protect lives, but also livelihoods in our community,” Moe said.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier says consequences of ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could be ‘quite severe’' Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier says consequences of ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could be ‘quite severe’
Coronavirus: Saskatchewan premier says consequences of ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown could be ‘quite severe’ – Nov 17, 2020