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 public health orders for COVID-19 will be removed Monday morning at 12:01 a.m.
The last time Saskatchewan hoped to say goodbye to mandatory internal masking was on July 11, 2021, when the province entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan.
On that day, Mo and Shehab sealed the final regularly scheduled COVID-19 update with a handshake before all previous COVID-19 health restrictions were lifted.
At the time, the Saskatchewan Health Authority reminded residents in a press release that the pandemic is not yet over.
When the fourth wave hit Saskatchewan, the provincial government decided to reinstall the masks policy on September 17, 2021.
People are still encouraged to wear masks ‘if needed’
From Monday, people may continue to wear masks if they want, but it will not be mandatory for residents, the county said Thursday.
“Everyone is asked to respect the decisions made by individuals,” the Ministry of Health said in a press release.
“Public Health continues to encourage residents to take preventive measures that have been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
These recommended measures include:
- Wear a mask if necessary.
- Free quick test.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Staying home when sick, for example if people have cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Get a vaccination, including a booster shot.
The county is also recommending that people who test positive for COVID-19 self-isolate either for five days after the test date, or for 24 hours since any fever has gone away without the help of medications and all other symptoms have at least improved. Two days, whichever is later.
The county said residents are also encouraged to keep reporting their contacts so they can self-monitor or get tested.
The Department of Health recommends in its news release that people who have tested negative but still have symptoms of the disease should stay home until they feel better for at least 48 hours.
Changes in long-term care facilities
Starting Monday at 8 a.m., long-term care homes will begin the move to open a family presence, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
This means that there will be no limits to the number of people who can visit at a time.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority says masks will be required in common areas but not in people’s rooms, unless the resident has coronavirus or is on precautions.
The agency said on its website that a small number of homes will maintain the enhanced precautions if local medical health officials consider them necessary.
According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, 55 percent of long-term care homes have already been moved to restore family presence, meaning additional visitors are allowed inside the buildings.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority says family presence in acute care facilities will remain at Level 1, so each patient can have two designated primary families or two support people, with only one person allowed to visit at a time.
“This return to pre-pandemic family presence protocols provides an opportunity for all residents to welcome more family and visitors,” the Saskatchewan Health Authority says.
“Everyone is required to follow SHA guidelines for screening, personal protective equipment and distancing, even if they have been vaccinated.”