Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told 650 CKOM’s John Gormley on Wednesday morning that a number of COVID-19 restrictions have “run (their) course,” including proof of vaccination and negative test requirements.
Moe re-iterated that he believes restrictions are not as “effective” as they have been previously in dealing with infection levels.
“Now it’s incumbent on us to look at the ones that we have and … are they still effective? Have they run their course?”
“In the next number of days, you’ll see some further communication around the existing public health orders or the existing restrictions we have in place and in particular those that are impacting our youth,” Moe told Gormley.
Moe pointed to a restriction that requires close contacts in schools to isolate from extracurriculars for a few days as one “that has likely run its course.”
Touching on the proof of vaccination or negative test requirement, Moe said “for the most part, it’s ran its course.”
“It increased our vaccination rates tremendously. But I think we’re getting to a point now where those that are not vaccinated likely aren’t going to get vaccinated.
“It’s time for us as a government to manage COVID as we move forward and it’s time for us as a society to understand that we are going to be living with COVID for some period of time now.”
Reporters on a provincial emergency operations centre (PEOC) briefing later Wednesday morning were told the intention of the call was “not to go into that,” in regards to Moe’s comments.
“Today’s tech briefing would not be to talk about future changes to the public health order. Those would be made in due course through the appropriate channels,” government spokesperson Jay Teneycke said.
Moe was not on the call.
Many reporters asked chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab if he supported the idea of removing proof of vaccination and negative test requirements.
Shahab said the proof of vaccination requirement “worked really well” during the province’s Delta wave.
He said the situation now is “a bit more complex.”
Shahab said those who have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are less likely to transmit the virus, which is why their isolation period is shortened to five days, rather than the 10 days required for those who are unvaccinated.
He added that booster doses have been shown in the short term – up to 10 weeks – to reduce the risk of transmission by about 60 per cent.
“So in that context, I think, while (proof-of vaccination) has been an extremely valuable tool and continues to be somewhat valuable, I think a decision, which all jurisdictions will have to make is, do they upgrade (proof-of-vaccination) to only working if you received three doses,” Shahab said.
He added most jurisdictions don’t want to take that action yet as residents are still booking appointments for their booster dose.
“I think it will be up to the government in Saskatchewan to look at all these facts that are present to make a decision on that and the ongoing future.”
Regarding Moe’s comments about the idea of the unvaccinated not changing their stance and getting the vaccine, Shahab said: “I would never want to accept that as a public health physician speaking to the public.”
“As other measures may relax, vaccination will continue to protect us well into the future.”