Sask. top doctor still urges caution as COVID-19 rules due to be relaxed

"Even though we'll be able to do more come May 30, you still need to do this cautiously, carefully, with consideration," says Dr. Saqib Shahab.

'Avoid as much as we can large superspreader events,' Dr. Saqib Shahab says

Saskatchewan Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab waits for a COVID-19 media update to begin at the Legislative Building in Regina. (The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan is only about a week and a half away from easing up on some of the broad public health measures enacted to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

And the province's chief medical health officer says residents should use that time to think carefully about how they'll navigate life as it gradually comes to resemble pre-COVID times. 

"We need to start planning ahead," Dr. Saqib Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday, after noting that indoor and outdoor private gatherings will be allowed up to 10 people, while the cap for indoor gatherings in public spaces will expand to 30, beginning on May 30.

"Are we comfortable with making sure that everyone who comes to the house is fully vaccinated?" Shahab asked.  

"Start having that discussion with friends and family, because even though we'll be able to do more come May 30, you still need to do this cautiously, carefully, with consideration."

"Avoid as much as we can large superspreader events," he added. 

Vaccinations, testing and following rules key

Shahab said getting vaccinated and following existing or amended public health rules are "the two things that are going to be essential" during Phases 1 and 2 of Saskatchewan's reopening plan. 

He also noted the continued importance of getting tested. 

Testing levels in the province have fluctuated in recent weeks. On Tuesday, 2,629 new test results were reported, compared to 3,034 one week before; 2,515 on May 4; and 2,865 on April 27. 

The peak number of test results so far this year, 5,833, was reported back on Jan. 11.

Nearing one benchmark for Phase 2

Premier Scott Moe has been regularly updating residents on where Saskatchewan is at in its reopening timeline.

Phase 1 of planned rollbacks is already set to occur on May 30.

In order to trigger a second set of rollbacks under Phase 2, 70 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 30 and over must have gotten their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Tuesday, that target was only two percentage points shy of being reached. 

Since three weeks need to elapse between Phases 1 and 2, the earliest Phase 2 could occur is June 20.

No change to the province's mandatory masking policy is expected until Phase 3.


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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