Masks and mask use are becoming frequent topics at province’s daily COVID-19 news conferences.
Premier Scott Moe stood by previous comments about mask use at a news conference Tuesday, despite criticism from the Opposition NDP last week.
Moe again said people who can stay two metres apart from each other don’t have to wear masks.
The comments came after a similar remark earned criticism from NDP Leader Ryan Meili, who also said the province’s mask regulations weren’t clear enough.
On Tuesday, Moe disagreed with Meili’s criticism.
“We’ve been very clear about mask use for many months now,” Moe said.
“If you are able to create that physical distance of, we’ve said two metres, if you’re able to keep that distance from others around you, you’re not required to wear a mask. If you are unable to keep that distance you should have a mask available and you should be very quick to put that on.”
Moe commended Saskatchewan residents for their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which he said was effective. He said people should be proud of where the province is today, more than six months after the pandemic started.
He said people’s efforts thus far have ensured Saskatchewan’s economy will be in a position where it can continue to grow.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, reiterated his position from last week, saying masks add an extra layer of protection on top of the health order’s physical distancing guidelines.
“I think all the layers are important: not going to school or work if you’re sick, maintaining the physical distance when you’re out and about and then, yes, when you’re inside a public place and can’t maintain a physical distance… having a mask on,” Shahab said.
He said mask use was particularly important in retail situations or other places where people can’t control the flow of others.
Shahab said that in schools, mask use is determined by either the school or the school division.
He said that as the province goes into the fall months, every layer of protection the government has brought in will be important.
Moe was also asked about people making negative remarks about those who choose to wear a mask in public places — like calling them “sheeple.” Moe reiterated that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a farce and that the virus has created complications all over the world.
“It’s disappointing that we would stigmatize anyone for any reason,” Moe said. “We should not stigmatize one another in our society for any reason, whether that be wearing a mask or what that may be.”