Saskatchewan is offering COVID-19 public safety guidance as the province prepares to fully reopen on Sunday.
A public health order requiring masks indoors will be lifted, but the government says unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people should still consider face coverings.
Businesses and other facilities can also require patrons to wear masks.
At Saskatchewan’s final scheduled COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, Premier Scott Moe thanked residents for following restrictions and said the province is in “a very good place” as the reopening approaches.
“Outside of wartime, I don’t think a government has ever asked so much of its citizens,” he said. “This was very difficult for all of us. But it was very necessary, and it does get us to where we are today.”
The province reported 53 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and one more death. There were 64 people in hospital because of the virus.
Additionally, 71 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 12 and over have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and half the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
Moe said these vaccination numbers are optimistic, but there is more to be done.
“Today, if you are vaccinated, age is no longer the largest factor in determining your risk from COVID,” he said. “If you’re fully vaccinated, you are very, very well protected. If you’re not vaccinated, you’re at risk.”
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, encouraged residents to make an appointment to get their vaccine if they haven’t done so already.
“The higher our vaccine rates go now over the summer, the better and safer fall we’ll have,” he said. “COVID-19 will continue to find those who aren’t vaccinated, and with vaccination rates lagging among younger people and in certain parts of the province, we will continue to see cases and clusters.”
Moe acknowledged the fight against COVID-19 will continue in the weeks and months ahead.
“There’s no ‘mission accomplished’ banner hanging behind me,” he said. “And that’s because, although the restrictions are coming to an end, COVID is not.”
Moe said the province is relying on vaccines as the first line of defence to keep COVID-19 controlled.
Other restrictions ending on Sunday include visitor limits at care homes.
In long-term and personal care homes, residents will be allowed an unlimited number of visitors. They will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, offered rapid tests and encouraged to wear a mask and physically distance while at the care homes.
Other provincial health-care facilities, including the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, will continue to require screening and masks until further notice.
Moe also thanked Dr. Shahab for his work during the pandemic.
“I want to thank you for your wisdom, for your judgment, for your perseverance, your compassion most certainly, and foremost do I want to thank you for your guidance to myself, to this government and to the broader population of this province,” said Moe.