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Sask. Premier Moe announces mandatory masking and proof of vaccination policies

Sask. Premier Moe announces mandatory masking and proof of vaccination policies-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Saskatchewan Premier, Scott Moe (CBC)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced Thursday that the province will implement mandatory masking, a proof of vaccination policy and a requirement for government employees to get vaccinated or receive negative tests.

Moe made the announcement in a video posted to his social media Thursday morning.

The provincial mask policy, which will apply to all public indoor spaces, begins Friday and the province has a target of lifting it in late October. The proof of vaccination policy will start Oct. 1 and will apply to establishments, businesses and event venues.

“Unfortunately today we are faced with a fourth wave,” Moe said in the video, noting that it is being driven “overwhelmingly” by unvaccinated people.

“We have been very patient — possibly too patient — but the time for patience is over.”

He said those who are not vaccinated “are creating consequences for others.”

“The vast majority of people in Saskatchewan have done the right thing and have grown tired of the reckless decision of the unvaccinated that are now driving our fourth wave.”

He said government employees in ministries, Crowns and agencies will be required to provide proof of vaccination by Oct. 1 or provide consistent negative tests.

Moe and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab are scheduled to provide an update on the province’s COVID-19 response at 2 p.m. CST Thursday. CBC will stream it live in this story.

As of Thursday, Saskatchewan had the highest case rates per capita over a seven-day period and the second-lowest vaccination rates among provinces.

Alberta, which shares similar high case rates and the lowest vaccination rates in the country, introduced several health policies Wednesday aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 and increasing vaccinations. The province also declared a public state of emergency.

‘Our system is on the brink,’ Regina doctor says

In the last three weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions have doubled in Saskatchewan and active cases have increased by two and a half times.

“Our system is on the brink right now. Literally no ICU beds in the entire province,” said Regina’s Dr. Alex Wong on Wednesday.

Last week, Moe announced mandatory vaccination or proof of a negative test for health-care workers, reintroduced mandatory isolation for positive cases and close contacts who are not vaccinated, and said surgeries and other health procedures would be affected by COVID-19 care needs.

The government has previously declined to introduce a provincial mask mandate or a proof of vaccination policy, though provincial medical health officers called for them on Aug. 26.

Last week, Moe said health measures were a “stop-gap” meant to bridge the province until vaccines were available and the majority of the province was vaccinated.

Moe said he believed getting vaccinated is a choice and that requiring vaccinations was “divisive” and would create “two classes of citizens.”

On Monday, the province signed an emergency order to redirect health-care workers.

“If we are in a state of emergency, then we need to act like it,” said Tracy Zambory, the president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN).

“This government is putting the bulk of the pandemic on health-care workers and they have other options that they could look at to reduce these numbers,” echoed Sandra Seitz, the president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5430.

CBC

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