The Saskatchewan government’s five-phase plan to reopen the province is set to begin on May 4.
The plan, which was unveiled Thursday by Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, will guide the province as it restarts its economy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the next several weeks, restrictions will be gradually lifted by adding more types of businesses to the allowable businesses list, meaning that they can reopen if they so choose,” Moe said in a news release.
“All businesses and public venues will be required to continue following physical distancing and cleaning and disinfection practices to protect both employees and customers. Members of the public will be expected to follow physical distancing rules and to stay home if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.”
Many dates still being determined
Phase 1, set to begin on May 4, will see restrictions lifted on certain medical services alongside a focus on outdoor recreation:
- Medical services including dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, opticians, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment.
- Facilities to accommodate low-risk outdoor activities, like boating and fishing.
- Online reservations for campgrounds, which are then to be opened on June 1.
- Golf courses will reopen with restrictions beginning May 15.
Phase 2, set to begin May 19, will include the opening of retail businesses and personal services not initially allowed under Saskatchewan’s state of emergency:
- Clothing stores, sporting good stores, vaping supply shops, bookstores, jewelry stores, boat and ATV dealerships, accessory stores, music stores, electronic stores, pawnshops and travel agencies.
- Personal services including hairdressers, registered massage therapists, acupuncturists and acupressurists.
Businesses are expected to continue practising physical distancing and implement screening measures if physical distancing is not possible.
Phase 3, to be enacted at a date still to be determined, will see the reopening of the remaining personal services and a relaxing of the restrictions on public gatherings:
- Aestheticians, tattoo artists, cosmetologists, electrologists, manicurists, pedicurists, suntanning parlours, body piercing, bone grafting or scarification services, and other personal service providers.
- Restaurant and food services, to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
- Child-care centres.
- Licensed establishments.
- Limits on public gatherings will increase to 15 people.
Phase 4, on a date also yet to be determined, will see further openings:
- Casinos, bingo halls, curling rinks, swimming pools, municipal parks and playgrounds, movie theatres, museums and similar facilities.
- Seasonal programming such as camps, recreational activities and athletic activities.
- Limits on public gatherings will increase to 30 people.
Phase 5, which Moe said will be dependent on factors such as the COVID-19 case count, will include the lifting of long-term restrictions.
Read the province’s full plan here:
Some restrictions will remain
Long-term restrictions on high-risk areas will initially remain in place through the first phases of reopening. These include maintaining the current state of emergency and recommendations against non-essential international and inter-provincial travel.
Mandatory self-isolation, with the threat of fines, will also remain in place. People have to self-isolate for 14 days if they have travelled internationally, have tested positive for COVID-19 or if they have come into contact with someone who has.
Classes will remain suspended throughout the province’s public and private schools, and restrictions will likely remain in place for the rest of the school year.
Visitation restrictions are still in place for long-term care facilities, hospitals, personal care homes and group homes.
Large public gatherings are still prohibited.
Prior to the release of the plan on Thursday, Moe said his government believes it can reopen the province safely, but only with “great caution.”
“Our government takes this decision extremely seriously,” Moe said.
“If we move too quickly, we risk increasing the spread of COVID-19. If we move too slowly, we risk permanent damage to the livelihoods of thousands of Saskatchewan people. Businesses that never reopen, and jobs that never come back.”
He said the process will be done “gradually and methodically” and in close collaboration with the chief medical health officer.