SASKATOON -- COVID-19 transmission linked to bars is on the rise, according to the province’s chief medical health officer.

Dr. Saqib Shahab said more fines have been slapped down on businesses breaking the restrictions.

“We have issued warning letters and fines to several bars, for example, where business owners are not complying with the guidelines,” Shahab told reporters in a news conference on Tuesday.

“The patrons are not complying, there's mingling among tables – thus resulting in outbreaks.”

Under Saskatchewan’s public health orders, restaurant and bar seating must have a two meter distance and a maximum of four people can sit at one table.

On Monday, Saskatchewan saw one of the highest case counts since the pandemic began with 412 cases and eight deaths.

On Tuesday, the province recorded 248 new cases and five deaths.

Shahab blamed the recent spike on gatherings over the holidays.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing importation into schools because certain households decided to have large gatherings. We’re seeing importation into workplaces,” he said.

With the transmission trend heading in the wrong direction, the province announced its extending current COVID-19 measures.

“We did see, with these very set of measures, a lowering of the rate of transmission in December. And we’re hopeful we’ll see that same lowering in the couple weeks ahead,” Premier Scott Moe said.

But NDP leader Ryan Meili isn’t confident with the current restrictions and is urging the province to do more.

“The current measures are not working,” Meili said.

“The current restrictions are not successful and continuing to do something that isn’t working means more people will get sick and more people will die.”

The restrictions are in place until Jan. 29. At that time, the province – under direction from health officials – will decide to either extend or loosen the guidelines.