A timeline of the measures Saskatchewan has taken to help flatten the curve in the province

This timeline shows the steps Saskatchewan has taken to help flatten the curve in the province.

How and when Saskatchewan reacted to the spread of COVID-19

Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer, speaks at a COVID-19 news update in Regina on March 18. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The first inklings that life was going to change dramatically in Saskatchewan came on Feb. 13, when the Government of Saskatchewan released its first of many updates with "coronavirus information."

At the time, there were no confirmed cases and the risk of infection remained low.

The government said anyone who had travelled from China's Hubei province or who had close contact with a person sick with COVID-19 needed to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

People arriving from other parts of China were asked to actively monitor for symptoms.

On March 5, another news release said much the same — no confirmed cases, risk remains low — but now travellers from Iran must also self-isolate.

March 12, first case in Saskatchewan

The first confirmed presumptive case of COVID-19 was a resident in their 60s who had recently travelled to Egypt.

The government advised all travellers to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after returning to Canada and to call HealthLine if they became ill.

March 13, gatherings to be limited after the weekend

On March 13, the second presumptive case was confirmed — a resident in their 60s who had travelled from Oregon.

The government also announced the first suite of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • No public gatherings of over 250 people in any one room.

  • No events of over 50 people with speakers or attendees who have travelled internationally in the previous 14 days.

  • People who have travelled outside the province in the previous 14 days or had acute respiratory or flu-like symptoms were asked to avoid visiting long-term care homes and hospitals.

March 14, all returning travellers need to self-isolate

On March 14, four new cases were reported — all connected to recent travel — and a new recommendation came into effect: All travellers returning from international destinations, including the U.S., needed to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.

This was also the day that a snowmobile rally dinner took place in Christopher Lake, Sask., which has since been tied to 20 cases.

March 15, program cancellations across the province 

While libraries, leisure centres, sports leagues and other organizations across the province began to close and cancel programming, the government said schools would stay open.

A news release said the criteria for school closures would be based on:

  • Evidence of sustained transmission within the community.

  • Rapid increase of local cases.

  • Transmission without a known link to travel or confirmed cases.

March 16, classes suspended indefinitely

On the day that the seventh case of COVID-19 was reported, the government announced that school would be suspended indefinitely starting March 20.

There was no evidence at this point of community transmission nor a rapid increase of local cases.

Other measures put in place included:

  • Restricting visitors to long-term care homes, hospitals, personal care homes and group homes to immediate family visiting for compassionate reasons.

  • Faith-based organizations would no longer be exempt from public gathering restrictions.

  • Travellers returning from within Canada were now required to self-monitor for 14 days upon return.

March 17, employees get job protection for leave

The eighth case was recorded on St. Patrick's Day. Restaurants and bars hadn't been mandated to close yet but some did voluntarily.

The Government of Saskatchewan made amendments to the Saskatchewan Employment Act to ensure employees would be able to take a leave if they became ill.

March 18, state of emergency declared

Eight new cases reported on March 18 doubled the total to 16, prompting Saskatchewan to declare a state of emergency.

New measures included:

  • Public gatherings larger than 50 people were prohibited.

  • All restaurants, bars and event venues had to limit seating to 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 50 people, whichever was less, and had to ensure a distance of one to two metres between customers.

  • Closure of all recreational and entertainment facilities, including fitness centres, casinos, bingo halls, arenas, curling rinks, swimming pools, galleries, theatres and museums.

  • The Saskatchewan Health Authority announced it was discontinuing all non-urgent/elective surgeries as of March 23.

March 20, restrictions tighten

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab ordered the following:

  • Public gatherings of over 25 people in one room are prohibited.

  • The closure of all bars, lounges and nightclubs, except for takeout.

  • Anyone identified by a medical health officer as being a close contact of someone with COVID-19 must go into mandatory self-isolation.

  • Health care workers and other essential workers are exempt from self-isolation if they've travelled internationally.

Additionally, Shahab said a number of new restrictions would be going into effect on March 23.

March 23, restaurants go to takeout only

By March 23, there were 66 cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan and several new measures had come into effect, including:

  • The closure of bars, restaurants, food courts and others, except for takeout.

  • The closure of all personal care businesses, including hairdressers, tattoo parlours, massage therapists, estheticians and others.

  • Dental optometrists, ophthalmologist, physical therapy occupational therapy, podiatry clinics can only provide urgent services or procedures

  • Child care locations can only have eight children per room.

March 25, list of essential services released

On March 25, it came to light that several people who attended the snowmobile rally dinner in Christopher Lake had tested positive for COVID-19. 

That day, the government announced further measures:

  • Size of public gatherings limited to 10 people in one room, effective March 26. Exceptions would be made if a two metre distance could be maintained between everyone.

  • A list of critical public services and businesses that would be allowed to continue operating was released.

April 3, staff assessments at long-term care facilities

On April 3, the government announced an employee at Eden Care assisted living facility in Regina has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Effective the same day, the government announced all employees working at long-term care facilities in the province will have their temperatures checked and will be monitored for symptoms prior to beginning their shifts.


Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.

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