Mask mandate ends in Saskatchewan on Monday

For the second time in Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 history the province is dropping its COVID-19 health restrictions, including the requirement to wear a mask.

All remaining COVID-19 public health orders will be removed on Monday morning at 12:01 a.m.

The last time Saskatchewan was hoping to say good-bye to mandatory indoor masking was on July 11, 2021, when the province entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan.

That day Moe and Shahab sealed the final regularly scheduled COVID-19 update with a handshake ahead of lifting all previous COVID-19 health restrictions.

Back then the Saskatchewan Health Authority reminded residents in a news release that the pandemic was not over. 

When the fourth wave hit Saskatchewan, the provincial government decided to reinstall its mask policy on Sept. 17, 2021.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Dr. Saqib Shahab shake hands at the final regularly scheduled COVID-19 update on July 7, 2021. (CBC)

People still encouraged to wear a mask ‘if needed’

Starting Monday, people may still continue to wear masks if they want, but it won’t be mandatory for residents, said the province on Thursday.

“All are asked to be respectful of the decisions individuals make,” the Ministry of Health said in a news release.

“Public health continues to encourage residents to take the preventative measures that have proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

These recommended measures include:

  • Wearing a mask if needed. 
  • Free rapid testing.
  • Regular handwashing.
  • Staying home when ill, for example if people have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Getting vaccinated, including a booster shot.

The province also recommends that people who test positive for COVID-19 self-isolate either for five days following the test date, or for 24 hours since any fever has cleared up without the help of medication and all other symptoms have been improving for at least two days, whichever is later. 

Residents are also encouraged to continue informing their contacts so they can self-monitor or test, the province said.

People who test negative but still have symptoms should stay at home until they feel better for at least 48 hours, the Ministry of Health recommends in its news release.

Changes in long-term care facilities

Starting Monday at 8 a.m. long-term care homes will start to move to open family presence, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

This means there will be no limits to the number of people that can visit at a time.

Masks will be required in common areas but not in people’ rooms, unless the resident has COVID-19 or is on precautions, the Saskatchewan Health Authority says

A small number of homes will keep enhanced precautions if considered necessary by local medical health officers, the agency says on its website.

According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, 55 per cent of its long-term care homes have already transitioned to recover family presence, meaning additional visitors are allowed inside the buildings.

In acute care facilities family presence will remain at Level 1, so every patient can have two designated essential family or support people, with only one person being allowed to visit at a time, the Saskatchewan Health Authority says.

“This return to pre-pandemic family presence protocols provides the opportunity for all residents to welcome more family and visitors,” says the Saskatchewan Health Authority. 

“Everyone is required to follow SHA guidelines for screening, personal protective equipment and distancing, even if they are vaccinated.”

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