Moe told a virtual convention of mayors and municipal councillors that his Saskatchewan Party government has been able to keep the most businesses open out of any jurisdiction.
Saskatchewan currently has one of the highest rates of active COVID-19 cases per capita in the country, with a seven-day average of 223 new cases each day and a population of just over one million people.
“It’s easy for some to stand up and say, ‘We need to lock everything down,’ when they have the opportunity to work from home,” Moe told delegates in Monday’s online speech.
“The fact of the matter is, is thousands of people in Saskatchewan do not have that opportunity.”
Moe said many employees working for businesses that remain open to customers can’t do their jobs elsewhere and his goal is to keep as many people working as possible through the pandemic.
Only bingo halls and casinos have been closed since daily case numbers began rising last fall.
Sports teams aren’t allowed to play games, but businesses are allowed to have customers at reduced capacity and with other restrictions in place.
Health officials say the province’s COVID-19 caseload is slowly dropping, but at a pace that’s still adding pressure to hospitals and intensive care units.
As of Monday, 214 people were in hospital because of the virus and 30 of those were in intensive care. Another 171 new infections were announced and two more deaths.
Moe said those who are ill or have lost relatives to COVID-19 are in his government’s thoughts, but he believes the province’s overall situation is improving because the caseload is stabilizing.
“The reality is this: No matter how severe lockdowns and public health measures are, they are not going to end this pandemic.”
Moe called business closures and other public health measures a “stopgap” in the fight to end the pandemic. Moe said that will only happen once there is widespread access to vaccines.
To date, the province has administered nearly 43,000 doses to critical health-care workers and seniors living in long-term care and smaller communities.