The Government of Saskatchewan has ramped up restrictions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic on the heals of a second case in the province.
Premier Scott Moe announced that effective March 16, there will be no public gatherings of over 250 people and no events over 50 people with speakers or where attendees have travelled internationally in the last 14 days. Faith-based organizations and retail are exempt, but the province is asking them to take precautions.
There is no order to close schools at this time.
"We have had one-to-one discussions with schools and universities and, while all sectors are making their own business community plans, at this point there are no plans for school closures," said Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.
"If and when that need arises we will be monitoring this and connecting with our counterparts in education on a daily basis."
Effective immediately, anyone who has travelled outside of the province in the last 14 days and has symptoms should avoid long-term care homes and hospitals.
As for provincial government employees, international travel will be prohibited and out-of-province travel will be restricted.
Any employees who are currently travelling internationally or personally plan to travel must isolate for 14 days. All tours and public events at the provincial legislature have been suspended and general public access of the building will also be suspended.
"As a province, we can’t leave this effort solely to our health system to react and to respond as new cases may arise," Moe said.
"We must take the personal and community responsibility that we know we need to, to ensure we are being proactive and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
Budget proceedings will take place on March 18 but without invited guests.
Moe also said that the province is receiving $15.6 million in funding to support the response against COVID-19. About $500 million has been given federally to the provinces to combat the pandemic.
Priorities were set out for infrastructure flexibility and funding and availability of supplies such as testing kits and personal protection equipment. Moe says the Minister of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Authority are monitoring these closely.
The province has also addressed the concern about the capacity of Healthline 811 by doubling staff and plan to add more in the near future.
Saskatchewan’s emergency operation command has been activated for the last week to co-ordinate all public agencies in Saskatchewan.