Saskatchewan

When physical distancing restrictions are lifted, it will be in phases, says Premier Moe

Premier Scott Moe says that when the province is ready to lift restrictions, it will do so in phases — but he would not give a timeline for when that might happen.

No date or timeline given for when restrictions could be lifted

"We are actively thinking about what [lifting restrictions] does look like," said Premier Scott Moe at a teleconference on Saturday. "What we are not thinking about as of yet as to what date that would actually begin." (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Premier Scott Moe says that when the province is ready to lift restrictions, it will do so in phases — but he would not give a timeline for when that might happen.

The province reported at a teleconference on Saturday that for the first time, more than half of the people with confirmed cases in Saskatchewan have recovered.

Moe said he's "cautiously optimistic" about the numbers and that the government is actively thinking about what lifting restrictions would look like.

"The reason I would exercise caution with respect to the timing of that is we are still fairly early in our curve, if you will — our numbers are quite low when you compare them even with other provinces across Canada." 

While he wouldn't give a date for when restrictions could start to be lifted, he did say that the province is looking at phasing in the changes.

Moe said the province is looking at lifting some restrictions, and then actively testing the public and conducting contact tracing.

"If there's no significant increase in numbers with those restrictions being lifted, then you could breathe a sigh of relief and start to look at potentially the next phase of restrictions to be lifted." 

The premier said he's also concerned about a trend he sees in other provinces with outbreaks in long term care homes and other facilities where there are people with underlying health conditions. 

"Is there more that we can do with these higher risk populations so that we can protect them better as we start to consider to potentially lift some restrictions in the weeks ahead?"

'Too early still to let our guard down'

By the time the restrictions are starting to be lifted and testing and tracing begins, Moe said he expects to have "one of the most robust testing regimes available in the world."

Saskatchewan has the second-highest per capita testing rates in Canada and Moe has previously said he's pushing for the province to be able to complete 1,500 tests per day by the end of the month. 

He also said the province has ordered "rapid access testing kits" and is looking to get products that will test for antibodies.

Our numbers are quite low when you compare them even with other provinces across Canada.- Saskatchewn Premier Scott Moe

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said he's satisfied with the steps Saskatchewan residents have taken to help flatten the curve but he warned that the province needs to be "extremely cautious" about easing physical and social distancing restrictions.

"I think we have to learn from the experience from other provinces in Canada and other parts of the world like Europe and the U.S.," Shahab said. 

"This may be too early still to let our guard down."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter and copy editor with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning and The Morning Edition. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca.

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