SASKATOON -- Check back throughout the day for the latest on COVID-19 in Saskatoon and area.

If you're concerned you might be infected with COVID-19, the Saskatchewan COVID-19 self assessment tool is a helpful resource.

Here's advice on how to practice physical/social distancing and how to properly self-isolate at home.

Masks can pose challenges

In an era of physical distancing and wearing masks, those who are deaf or hard of hearing are having to adapt.

Some use lip-reading to understand communication, which can be difficult if the other person they are communicating with is wearing a mask.

"We use a lot of facial expressions in our language. We use a lot of body language and there is a lot of facial grammar that happens, you know, beneath the nose, and to the chin and mouth area. So when you cover that with a mask, you’re only seeing the eyes," said Robin Holmes, who is deaf and works with Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Today's special is ... social distancing

The Government of Saskatchewan has released guidelines for the reopening of restaurants as part of phase three.

Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, lounges, food courts, cafeterias, cafes, bistros and other similar food and beverage facilities are allowed to resume service on June 8.

These establishments have to operate at 50 per cent capacity, with reduced seating capacity, to limit the size of gatherings and promote physical distancing.

Five new cases, three patients in intensive care

On Friday, in its daily COVID-19 update, the provincial government said there were five new confirmed cases of the virus in Saskatchewan.

Four of the new cases were located in the province's far north and one was found in the south.

As of Friday, the province has a total of 627 cases of the virus, with 99 cases of the virus considered active.

Of the 99 active cases of COVID-19, 85 were concentrated in Saskatchewan's far north.

The province said 521 people have recovered from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.

There are four people hospitalized in Saskatoon due to the virus with three of the patients requiring intensive care.

There is one other COVID-19 patient in hospital according to the province, in Regina.

Guidance offered on mask-wearing

Following the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) recommendation earlier this week to wear a non-medical mask in settings when maintaining a two-metre distance isn't possible, the provincial government is providing guidance on mask usage.

In a press release, the province offered the following recommendations:

  • Avoid touching the mask. If you must adjust it, wash your hands afterward.
  • Masks must not be shared with others.
  • Put on and take off the mask with clean hands using the ear loops or ties, being careful not to touch your face.
  • Non-medical masks or cloth face coverings should be washed after each use.
  • Do not use face coverings on children under the age of two.

The province also emphasizes that mask-wearing is no replacement for public health measures "proven to be effective" such as practicing physical distancing, staying home when possible, frequently washing your hands and covering coughs and sneezes with tissues or your sleeve.

Get ready to pay for parking

Saskatoon City Council is reinstating public pay parking requirements; a move the city says will help boost the economy.

Council approved the changes at a special meeting Friday.

The reinstatement of other parking restrictions, including the on-street parking time limit of 72 hours and the Residential Parking Program (RPP), will also take place Monday.

Look for the "disinfected" sign before hitting the elliptical

As part of the third phase in the provincial government's Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, gyms are expected to open on June 8.

As with so many other areas of life during the pandemic, the experience will be different.

The province has laid out a number of guidelines in its plan, many focus on limiting number of gym-goers at any given time so two metres of distance can be maintained.

Other recommendations are also offered, such as regular cleaning of equipment complete with a "disinfected" sign to let gym-goers know its clean and ready to use.

Legislature coud resume next month

Opposition leader Ryan Meili said the government has proposed June 15 as a date to return to the legislative assembly.

Meili says the government plans to present a budget on that date. The province tabled a scaled-back budget with only spending estimates on March 18. The legislative assembly has been suspended since that date.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer presented a fiscal update in April that predicted $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion in lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Premier Scott Moe said the Ministry of Finance will release more revenue projections in June. He also said the province plans to release a full budget before Saskatchewan residents head to the polls in October.

Mountain Equipment Co-op opening pushed back unti 2021

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), one of Canada’s largest outdoor retailers, says it is moving ahead with its plan to open a store in Saskatoon, but it will be delayed until late next year.

MEC announced over a year ago that it would be opening a 20,000 square foot store this spring in Midtown Plaza, next to the new food court. However, those plans have now been delayed, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Earlier this year ⁠— before COVID-19-related restrictions were put in place by the province ⁠— there was speculation about whether the store was going to open at all, as no opening date had been set.

UFC taps out of Saskatoon event

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has cancelled the UFC Fight Night event scheduled for June 20 at SaskTel Centre.

The decision is due to national and provincial COVID-19-related restrictions on public gatherings and travel, according to a statement.

“UFC looks forward to returning with an event in the near future,” the statement says.

The UFC made its Saskatoon debut in August 2015 for UFC Fight Night 74 at SaskTel Centre.

Grey Cup financial loss

A day after the CFL announced Regina won’t be hosting a Grey Cup Festival until 2022, Saskatchewan football fans are feeling deflated, but understanding.

“It’s better than not having it at all,” said one fan who planned on attending the Grey Cup Festival in November.

The Regina Chamber of Commerce estimates the economic loss of not hosting a Grey Cup is in the $100 million range.

If the CFL season does resume in 2020, there’s a chance Regina could host a modified Grey Cup if the Roughriders make the finals, and have the strongest regular season record.

Contact tracing app on the way

Responding to the need to increase the capacity to trace any possible contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will soon be “strongly recommending” Canadians download a to-be-determined monitoring and exposure notification app.

In the meantime federal employees are ready to make thousands of contact tracing calls a day, seven days a week.

During his Friday morning address outlining the latest federal pandemic measures, Trudeau said that the federal government has trained federal employees who can make 3,600 contact tracing calls a day.

Statistics Canada has trained another 1,700 interviewers who can make up to 20,000 calls a day.

RCMP seize alcohol allegedly destined for La Loche

La Loche RCMP have charged three people for attempting to bring alcohol into the village with the intention of reselling.

Officers said they received information that some residents from La Loche were leaving the village to buy alcohol and planned to bring it back to sell.

Large amounts of hard liquor, coolers and beer were seized from five vehicles at a check stop, according to the RCMP.

The RCMP said they were told by community members that a 24-pack of beer resold for $200.

On May 9, the province suspended alcohol sales in La Loche at the request of the village's council to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thursday recap

On Thursday, the  provincial government said has set a target date of June 8 for the third phase of its Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

This plan's third hase  includes restaurants, bars, gyms, childcare facilities and places of worship. Personal services that didn’t open in phase two can also open under the next phase.

While many restaurants have offered takeout an delivery options during the pandemic, they have been closed since March for in-person dining.

“June 8 is a target date,” Premier Scott Moe said at the province’s daily update on Thursday. “That date can change in all or in part, in other areas of the province.”

As of Thursday, Saskatchewan had two new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 622, the province said in its daily update.

The two new cases were found in the far north. Of the 622 known cases, 106 are considered active, with 93 of the cases concentrated in the far north.

Members of the Saskatchewan NDP joined leader Ryan Meili  in front of the Legislative Building Thursday morning  to continue its call for the government to return to the Legislature.

The legislative assembly was suspended on March 18, the same day Premier Scott Moe declared a state of emergency in Saskatchewan.

Last week Moe said house leaders had begun meeting to discuss the possibility of returning to the legislature.

Unknown to the NDP, the province had sent its terms shortly before the start of the conference. It led to an accusation from the opposition leader the province is playing games

ryan meili

“That’s the kind of stunt that you’d expect from Jeremy Harrison, he’s had plenty of opportunity, he knows we’re out here,” Meili said. “If he fires a letter just before I stand on the podium you can see the kind of games that are being played.”

On the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested on Wednesday that the House of Commons could resume business during the COVID-19 pandemic using a "hybrid" model, in which some elected representatives are physically in the chamber while others participate virtually.

After graduation ceremonies were cancelled for the class of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatoon Public Schools is offering every graduate a lawn sign to help celebrate their achievement.

"Families will be able to display the signs proudly, allowing neighbours and the community to share in the celebration of each graduate's achievement," the school division said on its website.