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Mixed reactions come with lift of Saskatchewan's COVID-19 public health orders – News Talk 980 CJME

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The last of Saskatchewan’s public health orders were lifted on Sunday, as the province started Step 3 of the provincial government’s Re-Opening Roadmap.

Final restrictions requiring masking in public indoor spaces and limits on mass gatherings were removed.

But what were people saying — and doing — now that restrictions have been removed?

650 CKOM and 980 CJME spoke to many on Day 1 without public health orders, some with mixed reactions.

Uneasy with unmasking the province

Shoppers at a grocery store in Saskatoon had mixed reviews of the masks coming off. One of them, Sidra Baig, found most of the customers were still wearing face coverings.

“You can say it’s the same ratio … 70 per cent wearing masks and 30 (per cent) are not. That’s like how many people are vaccinated,” Baig said outside the Sobey’s on Eighth Street.

Baig personally doesn’t feel too comfortable with the province dropping public health orders.

“I have little kids at home and they (are) not vaccinated,” Baig said. “(They are) under 12, so no, I’m not very comfortable with that.”

Another shopper, Linda Fisher, also feels like the reopening has been rushed.

“People should still be wearing masks,” Fisher said. “We’re still in a pandemic, so I’ll be wearing a mask.”

Concerns over the reopening aside, shoppers appeared comfortable while getting their groceries.

Bailey Schiller liked the feeling of going without a mask but realizes they might not be gone for good.

“If I’m feeling sick I’ll probably wear one … If you feel like you got something (you could) probably just not spread it to people if it’s that easy,” Schiller said.

“Everyone is still wearing masks (inside the grocery store) from what I’ve seen, honestly.”

Gradual reopening for Regina church

While public health orders were lifted, many of the pews remained cordoned off for Sunday worship at First Presbyterian Church in Regina on July 11, 2021.

For the first time since the fall, First Presbyterian Church reopened its doors.

However, the scene was still reminiscent of pandemic norms. At the entrance, names were taken for contact tracing purposes, masks were worn until parishioners reached their seats and many pews remained cordoned off.

“We know it will be a process for people to feel comfortable to come back, altogether,” said Rev. Amanda Currie.

Currie described the church’s reopening as sort of a test run.

“We thought this summer would be a nice, quiet time,” she said. “We know that our attendance is lower in the summer anyway, as people are doing different things and maybe going up to the lake and that sort of thing. So we thought we would open for summertime … take it slowly and hopefully by September we’ll be able to remove all the restrictions, and things will become a little bit more back to normal.”

The day’s service brought about 20 people with the rest of the congregation watching a live stream remotely.

There was group singing, an activity that had been discouraged during the pandemic, yet a sound Currie missed hearing. She was also glad just to see people in person again.

“This congregation is a very huggy congregation and so usually at the end of the service, I’m standing at the back in the entranceway as people are coming out, and I get a hug from about 80 per cent of the congregation, some people would prefer a handshake,” she said.

Currie knows her church is among the fortunate ones. While Sunday was a cheerful one, she’s concerned about those who can’t or won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, here and abroad.

“Because we know that until everyone in the world, receives vaccines and gets through this pandemic none of us are actually going to get through it,” she said.

‘Freedom Brunch’ held at Regina eatery

While some are taking a cautious approach, those at Regina’s Birmingham’s Vodka and Ale House are feeling much more celebratory.

The end of restrictions mean the establishment can maximize the use of its space, said Levi Warren, general manager of the restaurant’s east end location. At one point during the pandemic, the restaurant was down to 30 per cent capacity.

“(The change) allows us to do our business the way we wanted to do our business, as opposed to the way the government wanted to do our business,” Warren said.

Warren said the atmosphere at the bar is one of independence. Rather than being escorted to a table by a host, visitors seat themselves wherever they choose. To mark the end of public health orders, the restaurant advertised a “Freedom Brunch.”

“It felt like we were really restricted on how we can serve our guests and the whole guest experience was changed a lot,” he said.

“We like people feeling as free as possible coming into our establishment.”

Staffing has completely rebounded, Warren said, with regular shifts. It’s something others in the hospitality sector can only hope for, as the pandemic has hit the industry hard. Warren says a recovery hinges on the clientele.

“That’s what we rely on for our entire business is just people coming out enjoying having a good time, and really just enjoying their life as it was before,” he said.

A word of caution

In the province’s final regularly scheduled pandemic briefing last week, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said the end of public health orders is a “great time” for those who are fully vaccinated. Those people, he said, can meet in any place, without masks.

But for those who remain unprotected, Shahab said they’re at even higher risk than at the start of the pandemic when there was only one strain of the novel coronavirus.

“The people who are fully vaccinated are providing some protection to you, but COVID is sneaky and find its way out,” Shahab said.

“You’re actually in a worse place than last year because now you don’t have the Wuhan strain, you have variants like Alpha and Gamma and Delta, that are more transmittable and can be more severe irrespective of age.”

— With files from 650 CKOM’s Payton Zillich and 980 CJME’s Joseph Ho

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Peel Region reports its first confirmed case of monkeypox – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Peel Region has its first confirmed case of monkeypox.

According to Peel Public Health, the person infected is an adult male in his 30s who lives in Mississauga.

The heath unit said the risk to the public remains low.

Monkeypox, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox, spreads though close contact with an infected individual. Most transmission happens through close contact with the skin lesions of monkeypox, but the virus can also be spread by large droplets or by sharing contaminated items.

To reduce risk of infection, people are advised to be cautious when engaging in intimate activities with others. Vaccination is available for high-risk contacts of cases and for those deemed at high risk of exposure to monkeypox.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash/lesions, which could appear on the face or genitals and then spread to other areas.

Anyone who develops these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid close contact with others until they have improved and rash/lesions have healed.

While most people recover on their own without treatment, those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox should self-monitor for symptoms, and contact PPH to see if they are eligible for vaccination.

The Mississauga case is at least the 34th confirmed case of the disease in Ontario, with dozens more under investigation.

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Monkeypox case count rises to more than 3400 globally, WHO says – The Globe and Mail

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More than 3,400 confirmed monkeypox cases and one death were reported to the World Health Organization as of last Wednesday, with a majority of them from Europe, the agency said in an update on Monday.

WHO said that since June 17, 1,310 new cases were reported to the agency, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases.

Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, WHO ruled last week, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

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Sudbury news: Northern agencies highlight national HIV testing day | CTV News – CTV News Northern Ontario

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Monday was national HIV testing day. Officials say this year’s theme surrounds how getting tested is an act of self-care.

From clinics to self-testing kits, groups in the north say there are many options to get tested and everyone should use whichever way works best for them.

Just more than a year ago, Reseau Access Network in Sudbury teamed with Ready to Know and Get a Kit, groups that provide HIV self-testing kits at a pickup location.

Officials said it has been a huge success.

“We get a consistent number throughout each month and I can’t really divulge those figures, unfortunately, but as part of the overall study I can tell you the pickup of self-tests is a fraction of the amount of tests being ordered,” said Angel Riess, of Reseau Access Network.

“There’s actually a lot of tests being shipped to homes directly but I can confirm that they have been active and there’s a significant number of people who have chosen to engage in both programs.”

Elsewhere, the Aids Committee of North Bay and Area held a point-of-care testing clinic to mark the day.

“It’s an opportunity for us to remind everyone that getting tested is essential. If you don’t know you have HIV, you can’t take the steps to try to mitigate the possibility of spread,” said executive director Stacey Mayhall.

In addition to stopping the spread, knowing whether you are positive sooner rather than later can allow for a better quality of life.

“HIV is not a death sentence that it used to be,” said Riess.

“There have been advances in testing and medication and people can live long, healthy lives living with HIV.”

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