Premier Scott Moe announced Thursday the province’s plan to reopen Saskatchewan which is set to begin May 4.
“Over the next several weeks restrictions will be gradually lifted adding more types of businesses to the allowable businesses list,” said Moe.
“Let me be clear, many of the physical distancing restrictions and rules are going to remain in place,” he added.
Moe said during the presentation he believes that Saskatchewan can find the right path and carefully begin to open the province while still protecting residents from the spread of COVID-19.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said based on the current allowable businesses that are open and how they have operated, the province expects no risk increase when residents are engaging in other allowed activities.
“Even if there is a case you may get some limited secondary transmission but that is controlled quickly,” said Shahab.
“I think it will be essential that if we do see transmission in those settings, we are able to control that quickly,” he added.
Re-Open Saskatchewan is made up of five phases. Phase one will include previously restricted medical services, and the opening of golf courses, parks and campgrounds. Medical services previously restricted and boat launches will be reopened on May 4 while golf courses will open May 15. Parks and campgrounds will reopen June 1.
Golf courses, along with all other services included in the reopen phases, will undergo rule changes for operations to ensure proper steps are taken to avoid further spread of COVID-19.
Golf courses will have to spread tee times out to a minimum of 20 minutes apart to avoid congestion. No walk-on appointments are allowed, flags will remain in place and cups will be elevated so balls do not drop in the hole. The presentation said play is concluded when the ball makes contact with the cup. Additionally, food and beverage service will be suspended.
Campgrounds after reopening on June 1 will have to comply with a 50 per cent capacity rate with no adjacent sites occupied at the same time. All shower and laundry facilities will be closed to reduce the chance of further spread.
Phase two includes reopening retail businesses and select personal services that include hairdressers, massage therapists and acupuncturists starting May 19.
Phase three, which has a date to be determined, will include services such as gyms and fitness facilities, child care facilities, tattoo artists, estheticians, cosmetologists and other personal service facilities.
The third phase will start to reopen restaurant and food services at 50 per cent capacity. This phase will also include raising the size of public gatherings from 10 to 15 people.
The fourth phase which also has a to be determined date, includes reopening indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities along with increasing the size of public and private gatherings to 30 people.
The fifth phase with the date to be determined, includes considering lifting some long-term restrictions.
Moe said if the province starts to see a small manageable increase in active cases they would have to take a good look at the next proposed phases. He added it is not a time yet to make comment about allowing crowd sizes that come with CFL games and other large gathering events due to not having the information at this point in time.
“I don’t think we would be looking much past the next phase over the course of the next number of months,” said Moe.
“This needs to be primarily about keeping Saskatchewan residents safe. It also is focused with finding that right path, finding the path of how we can open up some sectors of the economy that have not been allowed to be open,” he added.
Moe said the province will continue to have conversations with all that are interested whether it be the CFL or other sporting leagues.
“It’s just too early for us to make any determinations with respect to whether or not those types of gatherings with that number of people would be allowed to carry on,” said Moe.
Shahab said it is a positive that the province is able to reopen in an organized way.
“The reason we can do that is because we have all been practising physical distancing and other measures to keep the curve flat,” said Shahab.
“As we go forward it’s not really back to business as usual, it’s going forward to business in a new normal for the next little while,” he added.