BBQ season on in Sask., but top doc says limit who you are meeting
Small gatherings are now allowed, but should be limited to two or three households
It may be time to get the backyard barbecue ready.
Saskatchewan residents have been told by provincial health officials they can now converge in small gatherings of less than 10 people, as long as they keep their contacts limited to certain households and people.
On Thursday, the province detailed its plans to reopen Saskatchewan over the course of five phases, with the first phase set to start on May 4.
However, on Thursday, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said small gatherings between two or three households are likely OK.
"As long as people are comfortable and they can keep their interactions limited to two or three friends or virtual households, for the most part, that would be something to sustain us for the next few weeks, but minimize the risk of transmission that can come from larger gatherings and meeting lots of people," Shahab said on Thursday.
However, he said even those within these groups need to be careful when sharing food or a meal, as the virus has been known to spread through these types of interactions.
"Try to meet the same people of the same household for the next little while," he said. "Don't randomly meet three new people everyday, because I think that's where the risk goes up."
He said it's critical that these guidelines are adhered to, as one case of COVID-19 can quickly turn into thousands if proper practices are not followed.
Premier Scott Moe echoed Dr. Shahab's remarks saying it is OK for people to invite close friends, family members or neighbours over for something like a barbecue as long as social distancing is practised.
"You should always be thinking of who I have come into contact with over the course of the past two weeks," said Moe, noting those in these small groups — close friends and loved ones — are ultimately the people you're trying to protect.
Moe himself said he's looking forward to when his family can get together again.
"I have a son that I haven't seen for six weeks," he said. "I'd love to have a barbecue with him and cook a locally-grown and processed steak sooner rather than later and I think we will."
Restrictions on public gatherings will remain capped at 10 for Phase 1 and 2 of the province's five-phase plan, with restrictions loosening to allow for a gathering of 15 people set to take place in Phase 3.
As of Thursday afternoon, Saskatchewan has had a total of 331 cases with 270 listed as recovered and 57 listed as active. So far, four people have died as a result of the pandemic.