Saskatchewan

Province increases capacity for worship services including funerals and weddings

Saskatchewan is increasing the number of people allowed at some larger gatherings, including places of worship and graduations. 

Government to announce Phase 4 target date early next week

The congregation of the Jesus is Lord Church in Regina is seen holding their hands up while attending a service in February. Worship services in Saskatchewan will be allowed to increase to one-third capacity, up to a maximum of 150 people. (JIL Church/Facebook)

Saskatchewan is increasing the number of people allowed at some larger gatherings to 150 people, including places of worship and graduation ceremonies.

The province said places of worship can increase attendance to one-third of the seating capacity, or a maximum of 150 people — whichever is less.

"It's important that people of faith get to celebrate and worship the way they want," said Deputy Premier Gordon Wyant on Thursday.

"Worship services are very much structured, routine events and I think it lends itself quite well to an increased capacity." 

Wyant said that many worship spaces are large enough to allow for physical distancing.

People will still need to maintain physical distancing and follow other public health guidelines. The rules apply to all worship services, including celebrations of life, weddings and outdoor ceremonies.

Options for graduation celebrations

When it comes to graduations, public health officials are still recommending virtual services as the safest option. 

Drive-in services are allowed as long as public health measures are in place.

Outdoor services can be held with a maximum of 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people including students, family members and staff.

Schools with larger classes would need to hold multiple ceremonies. Physical distancing and other steps must also be taken.

Outdoor weddings can take place under similar guidelines with no more than 150 people and everyone physically distancing. 

The province said public health officials will monitor the outcomes of these types of gatherings over the next several weeks to determine future reopening activities.

"We know that social interactions where there's food and close mingling are riskier than social interactions where you can maintain distancing," said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer. 

"This could be a safer way to have larger events and minimize the risk of transmission, but obviously we will have to monitor and make sure that remains. 

Shahab said that people organizing worship services, grads and outdoor wedding ceremonies have to allow for large separations between groups of 30 people so that if there is transmission it will be limited. Shahab reccommends more distancing for the groups of people, around 6 metres between groups.

"Of course in the future, if our numbers go up again, we would have to reconsider that as well," he added.

He said that things like buffets and dances will not be allowed due to risk of transmission. Those who are sick are urged to stay home from all gatherings. 

Phase 4 details coming

A target date for the first part of Phase 4 of the province's reopening plan is expected to be announced early next week.

This week's update to the plan includes guidelines for the activities reopening in the first part Phase 4, including children's day camps, outdoor pools, splash pads, and outdoor sports and activities. 

The second part of the phase will include indoor pools, indoor rinks, libraries, museums, galleries, movie theatres, casinos and bingo halls. The date for that part of the phase will be announced later.

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