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COVID-19: 100-plus people gather for pro-mandate protest in Saskatoon

Click to play video: 'People rally in Saskatoon to voice their concerns with provincial government'
People rally in Saskatoon to voice their concerns with provincial government
WATCH: With the ongoing anti-mandate protests clogging Ottawa and Windsor's Ambassador Bridge, a protest in Saskatoon argued against dropping the vaccine passport requirement and mask mandate – Feb 12, 2022

While anti-mandate demonstrations happened across the country, a crowd of more than 100 people at its peak gathered outside of Saskatchewan Health Minister and MLA Paul Merriman’s office in Saskatoon Saturday afternoon in favour of pandemic safety measures.

People brought signs and sang chants of their concerns about the handling of the COVID-19 mandates as well as the job the Saskatchewan Party has done throughout the pandemic.

Read more: Reaction mixed after Saskatchewan announces plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions

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Many believe the government is not doing enough to follow the science around managing the pandemic, especially during the recent wave fuelled by the Omicron variant.

Click to play video: 'Trucker convoy protesters gather in Toronto for second straight weekend'
Trucker convoy protesters gather in Toronto for second straight weekend

Event co-organizer Joel Hill says it’s time the government and MLAs listen to the disappointment from people across the province with the fact they are not following the correct policy.

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“We want the government to listen to the experts. Leave the politics out of our health care. Base your pandemic response on scientific data, not on politics,” Hill told Global News.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced on Tuesday that the province was removing a variety of restrictions around COVID-19 including the proof of vaccination system.

“With Omicron the benefits of the proof of vaccination policy most certainly has run its course. It’s time to take a step back to living with COVID-19 and get our lives back to normal, Moe said.

“The effectiveness of these policies is very different from the Delta variant, we feel the time is now to lift all restrictions and allow people to get back to a normal life.”

Moe said people should still get their vaccinations – first dose, second dose and booster shots – as they are proven to provide the best form of protection against the virus and prevent severe illness.

The masking policy in place is set to be discontinued at the end of February.

Read more: Protesters for and against COVID-19 restrictions gather outside Saskatchewan Legislature

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One health expert says while some parts of the country are seeing COVID-19 cases start to peak and go down, it’s difficult to predict what the virus will do in the future.

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“Even when we peak and we start to see numbers coming down, we will still see a lot of daily cases. It’s difficult to know how long that will be. As we continue to learn more about it each day and more research is done on the virus,” said Dr. Joseph Blondeau.

Countries like the United Kingdom and Denmark have recently announced all COVID-19-related restrictions are no longer in effect for their countries.

Many of the protesters believe the government is bowing to political pressure to lift the mandates and not the science. They don’t want to see the government give in to the demands of the trucker convoy protests taking place across the country asking for all restrictions to be dropped to “give people their freedom back.”

“We are seeing a response to politics catering to a small group of people who have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to public health. Listen to the health experts, they know what they are talking about,” Hill said.

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The two major talking points of the rally were the handling of the pandemic and the reasonable medical access to health care during a pandemic, specifically the crucial PCR tests required for diagnostic purposes.

“Each and every one of us have a right to uniform, free health care in this country, yet the Sask. Party has made it impossible for most of us to access testing for a virus during a global pandemic without paying hundreds of dollars,” continued Hill. “At least a Saskatchewan resident should be able to get a referral from a doctor for a COVID-19 PCR test without having to overcome physical and medical obstacles put in front of them by laymen politicians who want to hold power over us.”

Read more: Regina police issue 32 tickets in connection with weekend anti-mandate protest

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Provinces including Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have also announced some COVID-19 mandates will be dropped while Manitoba is accelerating its easing of restrictions.

As of Monday, proof of vaccination will no longer be required in Saskatchewan and by the end of the month, the mandate to wear masks will also be dropped.

Moe thanked the people and the work the businesses and local residents have done over the last couple of months.

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“It’s imperative that we make wise choices, it is imperative to the province’s success in moving forward.”

“It’s time to get back to a semblance of normal and getting to the things that we love to do, allow people to live their lives, and not to punish anyone sorely based on their vaccination status,” said Moe.

“We must realize that we can agree to disagree with others. Don’t lose a friend to COVID-19. We achieve great things in this province when we come together. We will lead the world in an economic recovery.”

Click to play video: 'The economic impact of the convoy protests in Ottawa'
The economic impact of the convoy protests in Ottawa

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