Health officials were questioned about comments made by Premier Scott Moe during a Provincial Emergency Operations Centre technical briefing on Wednesday.  

In an interview with John Gormley, Moe said that an announcement could be coming soon about loosening COVID-19 restrictions in the province.  

“I think in the next number of days, you’ll see some further communication around the existing public health orders or the existing restrictions we have in place and, in particular, those that are impacting our youth,” Moe said in the interview. 

In particular, Moe said he would be looking at close contact isolation in schools and the proof of vaccination passport system as restrictions that could end sooner rather than later.  

“(The proof of vaccination requirement) has really, for the most part, run its course,” Moe said. “It increased our vaccination rates tremendously, but I think we’re getting to a point now where those that are not vaccinated likely aren’t going to get vaccinated."

“It’s time for us as a government to manage COVID as we move forward, and it’s time for us as a society to understand that we are going to be living with COVID for some period of time …  

“The goal is to remove all of these restrictions when we are able.”  

The comments by Moe contradict recent comments made by Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.  

On Jan. 6, Shahab told the media that residents need to eliminate non-essential gatherings. Shahab reiterated that we can’t let our guard down now.  

“Even though we're cresting and starting to come down, if we relax everything right away, we will just rebound and that would not be good at all. So, just because we are cresting doesn't mean we can stop everything today,” Shahab said.  

Shahab then said back in November that he was “not willing to accept that Saskatchewan should forever remain the province with the lowest vaccination rate.”  

Shahab was asked if his position has changed since Moe commented that those unvaccinated likely aren’t going to get vaccinated.  

“I would never want to accept that as a public health physician speaking to the public and we already have seen that when proof of vaccination was put in place in September, we saw significant increase in the 18 to 39-year-olds who took up vaccination because they did want to be able to go to a restaurant or sporting event,” said Shahab.  

Shahab added that in the short-term residents still need to have their guard up, but there will be a point where the government will have to make a long-term plan. 

- With files from Logan Stein, CJME