COVID-19: Saskatchewan brings mandatory masks back, proof of vaccination coming Oct. 1

Premier Scott Moe says the decision of the unvaccinated population is driving the fourth wave of COVID-19 and Saskatchewan won’t wait any longer as it moves forward.

Ahead of the COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, he announced via Facebook that new measures are coming to the province to combat the fourth wave.

Read more: ‘Incredibly real’: Saskatchewan Health chief medical officer on COVID-19 burnout, protests

Effective Friday, Sept. 17, a public health order will bring back mandatory masking for all indoor public spaces in Saskatchewan. Government officials said the order is targeted to be lifted in late October at which time a full proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement will have been fully implemented.

According to the government, indoor youth athletics will be exempt from the masking order for those under the age of 18 while they are actively engaged in athletic activity.

Moe also said all employees of the government of Saskatchewan ministries, Crowns and agencies will be required to get vaccinated, with proof of full vaccination required by Oct. 1. He added employees will be required to provide consistent proof of negative test if they are unable to provide the proof of vaccination.

A provincial requirement for proof of vaccination or negative COVID test will be also be implemented Oct. 1 for public access to several establishments, businesses and event venues that include:

  • indoor dining at restaurants;
  • nightclubs, bars, taverns and other licensed establishments;
  • event and entertainment venues, including conference centres, casinos, movie theatres, concert venues, live-music venues, museums and indoor facilities hosting ticketed sporting events; and
  • indoor fitness centres and gyms.

The government said the proof of vaccination will not be required for the following:

  • retail businesses, including grocery stores;
  • places of worship;
  • fast food restaurants offering takeout and delivery;
  • health-care services, professional services, or personal services;
  • hotels or other lodging;
  • facilities hosting non-ticketed amateur sporting events, including youth athletics and recreational leagues;
  • business meetings and places of business closed to the general public, unless otherwise directed by the business or employer; and
  • private gatherings held at an indoor public residence.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the proof of vaccination or negative test requirement, according to government officials.

Moe said Saskatchewan’s verifiable vaccination record will be launched on the week of Sept. 20 and protocols regarding proof of negative test requirements are currently under development.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan premier defends decisions behind proof of vaccine policy' 2:32 Saskatchewan premier defends decisions behind proof of vaccine policy

Saskatchewan premier defends decisions behind proof of vaccine policy

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili said Moe announced “some long overdue measures.”

“The official Opposition called for this type of leadership weeks ago,” read Meili’s statement.

“We are all united by our desire for the pandemic to be over. But Scott Moe has been pretending it has been over since July. He took the summer off, but COVID-19 did not. Scott Moe ignored his own government’s modelling and advice. He ignored the increasingly desperate voices of ordinary people, teachers, doctors and nurses, the pandemic chiefs, medical health officers from across the province.

“Copying Jason Kenney’s ‘too-little, too-late’ plan is not leadership. And a premier who always acts last – if at all – is not a leader. The people of Saskatchewan deserve so much better than the arrogance and inaction of Scott Moe … The premier must apologize, show remorse, and take real action. If not, it’s time for him to resign.”

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Earlier today, the premier said the government has been patient in providing the opportunity and the access to get vaccinated but that patience has now come to an end.

“Unlike previous waves, this wave of the pandemic is being driven almost entirely by one group that consists of about 20 to 30 per cent of our population, those that have made the choice to remain unvaccinated. New cases are overwhelmingly in unvaccinated people,” Moe said.

“The time for patience is now over, the choice to not get vaccinated is not just affecting you, it’s now seriously impacting those who did do the right thing. And it’s now seriously impacting those who cannot get vaccinated, our children, and it is prolonging the pandemic for everyone.

“The choice to not get vaccinated is creating consequences for others. And I would say very soon it’s going to create consequences for those who have made the decision to remain unvaccinated.”

On Thursday, Saskatchewan’s dashboard showed 218 COVID-19 hospital patients, 4,064 active cases and the overall death toll rose by one to 630.

The province’s seven-day average of new daily infections grew to a new record high of 438 from 416 on Wednesday.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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