SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but says doing so “will remain a choice” within the province.

However, Moe delivered a stern message Friday morning to residents who choose not to get vaccinated.

"By choosing not to get vaccinated you are choosing to put yourself at increased risk, yes, of getting COVID and significantly increased risk of experiencing severe outcomes from this virus, but your decision to not get vaccinated is no longer just impacting yourself," he said at a news conference in Saskatoon.

"By choosing to not get vaccinated you are increasing the risk to those who don't have a choice. For example, our children under the age of 12.

"And by choosing to not get vaccinated, you are now placing tremendous strain on our health-care system, filling up our ICU beds and you are burdening many of our health-care workers in this province."

Moe, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone spoke at the Saskatoon Cabinet Office to provide an update on the province's response to COVID-19.

Moe said that while he would like to see each eligible person in Saskatchewan get vaccinated, he also believes vaccination is a choice - and that creating two classes of citizens based on vaccination status would be a difficult and divisive path for a government to take.

"So in Saskatchewan it will remain a choice, but you need to also fully understand the serious potential consequences for yourself and for our health system if you choose not to get vaccinated."

On Friday the province enacted a mandatory self-isolation order, which states that anyone who receives a positive COVID-19 test must self-isolate for 10 days.

The government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority are also reducing non-critical or elective health-care services to expand the surge capacity of the health system.

The SHA is also working to renew an agreement with health-care provider unions that will allow for more flexibility and mobility for health-care workers to move around to areas experiencing surges in capacity pressures.

Testing and contract tracing efforts are also being expanded across the province.

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