Premier Scott Moe held a press conference on Friday to announce there has been a second case of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, and measures being implemented to avoid the rapid spread of the virus.
“I know the emergence of this pandemic is creating great uncertainty for families and communities across Saskatchewan. People across this province are wondering what this means for them,” said Moe.
“I can assure you that the entire government of Saskatchewan also understands this. Over the last several weeks the Ministry of Health led by the chief medical health officer Dr. (Saqib) Shahab has been co-ordinating a province-wide effort to prepare Saskatchewan for the arrival of COVID-19,” he added.
Moe added that all of the necessary resources will be made available to support the “diligent effort that is already underway.”
Starting March 16, chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab has ordered no more public gatherings of over 250 people but does not include settings where people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings, such as schools, universities or workplaces.
He also ordered that no events of over 50 people with speakers or attendees who have travelled internationally in the last 14 days take place. In addition, it was stated retail locations and faith-based organizations are exempt.
Shahab said in the press conference the restrictions will not impede day-to-day business and they will continue to monitor and adjust if things settle down.
“Obviously, this can be rescinded. If things worsen the order will be ammended to put in even more restrictive steps like we discussed, like has happened in other parts of the world,” said Shahab.
“This currently meets the needs of today, but we’ll keep monitoring the situation to see what adjustments need to be made,” he added.
Shahab said the goal is to minimize social disruption.
“We want to promote as much social distancing as possible. We recognize that it is challenging, but we want to promote that for the time being,” said Shahab.
Shahab noted with these kind of public health orders, it’s very rare for people to not comply. In the event there is gatherings that are not in compliance, there are remedies under the Public Health Act and disease control regulations through legal channels.
Health Minister Jim Reiter said they expect people are going to comply with the restrictions set by the province.
“We expect that people are going to comply. But, there are significant financial penalty provisions in the act if it ever came to that,” said Reiter
Moe also announced during the press conference that of the $1 billion that is being disbursed by the federal government to combat COVID-19, a per capita share of $15.6 million will be sent to Saskatchewan.
“This funding will be targeted specifically to support COVID-19 response within out health system here in Saskatchewan,” said Moe.
Jordan Stricker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Estevan Mercury