Saskatchewan

Gradual Sask. reopening plan tied to vaccination rates to be unveiled Tuesday: Premier Moe

"This is more like turning up the lights with a dimmer switch," Premier Scott Moe says

'This is more like turning up the lights with a dimmer switch,' Premier Scott Moe says

Premier Scott Moe cautioned that the plan is contingent on people taking vaccines.  (The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says his government will announce on Tuesday details of a plan to gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions once the province hits yet-to-be-specified vaccination rates.

"We're going to talk about what the metrics are with respect to our vaccination rates and how that is going to impact what we can and can't have access to in our communities over the weeks ahead," Moe said on Monday.

Moe did not offer much else in the way of details about what he dubbed "a roadmap to recovery" but hinted Saskatchewan may borrow elements from other countries' plans. 

"If you look at what they did, for example, in the U.K., you didn't wake up one morning, hit a certain percentage and then open everything up. And I don't think anybody is expecting that," Moe said. "This is more like turning up the lights with a dimmer switch."

Moe cautioned that the plan is contingent on people taking vaccines. 

As of Monday, 43 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 18 and up have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Moe said the vaccination rate was a more preferable metric to look at compared to Saskatchewan's seven-day average of daily new cases, which stood at 230, or 18.8 new cases per 100,000 people, as of Monday.

Ryan Meili, the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, said Saskatchewan's vaccination rate should be "a big part" of any plan to reopen the province. But the leader of the Opposition said other factors such as hospitalizations and COVID-19 caseloads should be weighed, too. 

The plan needs to include specific thresholds for lifting restrictions, Meili said. 

"We'll see what tomorrow looks like," he said.

Moe typically hosts a COVID-19 news conference, alongside Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, Tuesdays at 3 p.m. CST. 

No move toward border restrictions with Alberta

During the same scrum where he previewed the reopening plan, Moe confirmed his government is not considering border crossing restrictions with Alberta, where cases of COVID-19 are surging, even as he acknowledged traffic is heavy between the provinces. 

"We are most certainly aware and watching closely and feel for our friends in Alberta but [remain focused] very much on delivering vaccines to Saskatchewan people," Moe said.

Meili said restrictions should be considered if COVID-19 cases spike in Saskatchewan as they have in Alberta.

"I would like to have some clear public health advice on what those risks are," Meili said. 

In its latest COVID-19 update to physicians on Thursday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority reported that "uncontrolled intra- and inter-provincial travels is driving ongoing transmission and [facilitating] the speed of variant spread."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

With files from Adam Hunter

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