'No magic switch': Premier says plan in works to reopen Sask. in phases, but urges vigilance
Published Monday, April 13, 2020 10:13PM CST Last Updated Sunday, May 16, 2021 12:03PM CST
SASKATOON -- It was a little over a month ago the Juno Awards, set to take place in Saskatoon, were cancelled over fears that the event could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
The news came the same day as the province's first COVID-19 case was announced, a Saskatoon man in his 60s.
A sweeping series of public health restrictions and recommendations soon followed, which shuttered everything from city playgrounds to schools and businesses.
Monday, as health officials reported just two new cases of the virus among the province's 118 active cases, Premier Scott Moe said it's time to begin thinking — cautiously — about how life here may eventually get back to some semblance of normal.
"We can start to think about what the process of reopening Saskatchewan will look like," Moe said.
Moe said his government could have a "Reopen Saskatchewan" plan ready to present as early as next week while at the same time urging continued vigilance.
"We are only one outbreak away from interrupting those (positive) numbers," he said.
During a news conference in Regina, Moe said the plan would be crafted in close consultation with Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.
"It will be a phased approach, a methodical approach," Moe said.
Increased testing to monitor for new cases and rigorous contact tracing, where new cases are investigated and potential points of transmission identified, would be key pieces in the effort to ease restrictions.
"There is no magic switch that we can flip to send everything back to normal overnight," Moe said
For some areas of life in the province, Moe said it could be weeks, months, or even as long as it takes to develop a vaccine, until restrictions are fully lifted.
"First among those that come to mind is our long-term care centres. That isn't a place where restrictions are going to be removed anytime in the near future," Moe said.
While the plan could soon be ready, Moe said that it's not an invitation to become "complacent" about the threat posed by COVID-19.
"We are seeing these positive numbers because of the very stringent physical distancing measures people, individuals, families are taking."