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Saskatchewan lifts all remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions – Global News

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After more than a year of public health orders, all remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions were lifted in Saskatchewan on Sunday at 12:01 a.m.

Provincial health officials announced three weeks ago that the restrictions would be removed on Sunday after nearly 70 per cent of residents 12 and older were vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more:
Spike in Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 numbers attributed to Hatchet Lake outbreak

As of Saturday’s update, 739,331 residents 12 and older have been vaccinated with at least a first dose and 549,537 of those residents are fully vaccinated.

Buffets, nightclubs, dancefloors and karaoke bars are also able to reopen now for the first time since fall 2020.

Bars and licensed establishments will be able to serve alcohol past 10 p.m., a restriction that was put in place in October due to multiple outbreaks at Saskatoon nightclubs.

Read more:
A timeline of the novel coronavirus in Saskatchewan

In early March 2020, the province implemented the first COVID-19-related public health order on gathering size limits. Later, more restrictions were placed on schools, businesses, and places of worship.

The mask mandate was put in place for the entire province on Nov. 13.

“I don’t think a government has ever asked so much of its citizens. This was very difficult for all of us, but it was necessary,” Premier Scott Moe said in a recent press conference.

Though restrictions are coming to an end, Moe cautioned that COVID-19 is still prevalent and the fight still needs to continue.

“Instead of trying to control the infection rate through government-imposed restrictions and government rules, we can now control COVID through vaccines,” Moe said.


Click to play video: '‘Stark’ difference between those unvaccinated, fully vaccinated for COVID-19: Saskatchewan premier'



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‘Stark’ difference between those unvaccinated, fully vaccinated for COVID-19: Saskatchewan premier


‘Stark’ difference between those unvaccinated, fully vaccinated for COVID-19: Saskatchewan premier

Moe credited COVID-19 vaccines for low COVID-19 case numbers in recent weeks.

As of the July 10 update, there were 414 active cases in Saskatchewan.

Currently, everyone in the province over the age of 12 is eligible for both their first and second shots.

Moe said there is ample supply of vaccines at Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) clinics and pharmacies across the province.

“There’s absolutely no reason for anyone to not consider going out and getting vaccinated,” Moe told reports on July 7.

“The difference between being vaccinated and being unvaccinated is quite stark,” Moe added.

In June, there were about 2,000 COVID-19 cases reported in the province — over 80 per cent of those people were not vaccinated. Less than two per cent of the cases were fully vaccinated.


Click to play video: 'Regina businesses adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted'



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Regina businesses adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted


Regina businesses adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted

According to the SHA, there were no COVID-19-related deaths or ICU admissions of any resident who was fully vaccinated.

“The evidence that vaccines are working really couldn’t be much more stark than that,” Moe said.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, echoed Moe’s comments.

“Vaccinations remain our main path out of the pandemic,” Shahab said at the press conference.

Shahab pointed out the significant outbreak in the far north east where 101 cases were active as of July 10. He said the SHA is working with communities to provide vaccines closer to home.


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: How do Canadians navigate social tensions post-pandemic?'



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COVID-19: How do Canadians navigate social tensions post-pandemic?


COVID-19: How do Canadians navigate social tensions post-pandemic?

The City of Saskatoon and City of Regina announced on Thursday they would be following the province’s guidance and not requiring masks or social distancing in city facilities or transit.

Some local business owners told Global News on Thursday they will ask patrons to consider wearing a mask.

Groovy Mama in Regina will be encouraging but not requiring masks. Owner Cara Zimmerman said her clientele is either trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or have young children, something she is worried about once the mask mandate is lifted as those 12 and under who cannot receive a vaccine.

At YWCA daycares, Senior Director of Community Programs and Childcare Tara Molson said some measures will still be followed past Sunday.

Molson said children will still remain in cohorts, and handwashing and sanitizing will continue.

Staff, parents and children will have the option to wear masks but won’t be required to.

Read more:
Masking guidelines to remain in place at most Saskatchewan Health Authority facilities

The SHA said on Thursday that medical-grade masks must continue to be worn in all of their facilities, including hospitals, vaccine clinics and out-patient clinics. Patients are allowed to remove their masks when they are in their own room.

Level 1 family presence guidelines will also remain in place at SHA facilities, meaning each patient can designate two essential family members or support persons. Those two people must visit the patient one at a time. Two people can be present at the same time for intensive and palliative care, and maternal and children units.

More family members and supports can be designated for intensive and palliative care.

— with files from David Giles, Mickey Djuric, Jacob Carr

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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No changes expected as COVID-19 cases surge in Central Okanagan: Kelowna airport – Revelstoke Review – Revelstoke Review

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With new restrictions announced specifically for the Central Okanagan today (July 28), the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) said they are not expecting any changes to their operations.

Senior manager of airport operations Phillip Elchitz said that with the COVID-19 safety plan already in place at YLW, they don’t expect much more to change.

Elchitz also said that they’re not expecting much impact on passenger numbers because of the new restrictions.

“YLW is not anticipating a reduction in commercial scheduled flights as a result of the new provincial health guidelines specific to the Central Okanagan,” he said.

“YLW currently has a mandatory mask policy in place for all areas of the Air Terminal Building and on aircrafts due to Transport Canada requirements.”

Individual passenger temperature is also checked just before they go through security as an added safety measure.

Earlier in the afternoon on July 28, the province announced that masks will be mandatory again in indoor public spaces throughout the Central Okanagan, which includes Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.

The province is also discouraging non-essential travel to and from the Central Okanagan, especially for those who are not vaccinated or who don’t have both doses yet.

READ MORE: Mask mandate returns to Central Okanagan, COVID-19 outbreak declared


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twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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Nenshi says lifting Alberta’s remaining COVID-19 health orders is the ‘height of insanity’ – Global News

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The mayor of Calgary says it’s the “height of insanity” that Alberta is moving ahead with removing almost all of its remaining COVID-19 public health orders, even as cases climb in the province.

Alberta has ended isolation requirements for close contacts of people who test positive and contact tracers will no longer notify them of their exposure. The province has also ended asymptomatic testing.

Read more:
Alberta to adjust COVID-19 masking, isolation, testing rules over next month

Further measures are to be eliminated Aug. 16. People who test positive will no longer be required to isolate. Isolation hotels will close as quarantine supports end.

“It is inconceivable to me. It is the height of insanity to say we don’t even know what’s happening,” Nenshi said Thursday.

“It is putting the health of Albertans at risk. To stop contact tracing, to stop testing people for the coronavirus and to become one of the first _ if not the first — jurisdictions in the world to say that people who have tested positive, who are infectious, can just go about their lives.”


Click to play video: 'Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll'



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Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll


Majority of Canadians worried about lingering COVID-19 threat, according to poll

Naheed Nenshi, who was making an announcement at the Calgary airport, said if he were in another jurisdiction he would be thinking hard whether to put travel restrictions on Albertans starting Aug. 16.

“I’m aware of no science that backs this up. It is clear for the last month or so on this file (that) our government has been grasping and struggling, just trying to get some good news out of something,” he said.

Read more:
Amid pushback, Alberta health minister defends plan to ease COVID-19 isolation, masking, testing rules

“To say we don’t want to know who has the coronavirus, we don’t want to track outbreaks. Even the most fervent of the anti-maskers wouldn’t say (to) unleash people who are actually infectious into the population.”

Nenshi said he worries that the decision to lift the health orders is politically motivated and has nothing to do with science at all.

“The only possible explanation here is a political one. It might be that they’ve run out of money, but you know what? Don’t spend $1.5 billion on a pipeline you know isn’t going to get built if you’re running out of money.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Businesses, tourism sector worried about impact of local virus restrictions in Central Okanagan – Kelowna News – Castanet.net

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[embedded content]

Madison Erhardt

Come to the Central Okanagan, but only if you’re fully vaccinated.

That is the message from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and Tourism Kelowna after the provincial government announced new local steps Wednesday to try and lower COVID-19 cases.

A new regional mask policy was announced by Interior Health after 240 new cases of the virus were identified among Central Okanagan residents in the last week.

Along with the indoor mask mandate, the province is now discouraging non-essential travel into and out of the Central Okanagan for people who are not immunized.

TOTA says after an extremely tough 15 months they are concerned about how it might affect the industry, but she says it is a necessary step.

‘’I think the bigger concern is that if we don’t address it now and get things under control we will continue to lose ground. We have done so well up until now. I think that doing this to make sure that we nip it in the bud and we get a good rest of the summer and fall is very important,” said senior vice president Ellen Walker-Matthews.

Tourism Kelowna president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne says the change will likely impact frontline staff the most.

“We know especially with having dealt with the haze and smoke recently that this is going to have an impact on our tourism businesses. Primarily it is going to be our frontline staff I’m afraid. These are the folks who are dealing with the public every day, and because this health order is only for the Central Okanagan, many travellers don’t realize that it is in effect and it is the frontline staff that have to do the education.”

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says the regional mandate has also caused some confusion amongst businesses.

“Earlier this year we were loud and clear along with chambers across the Interior when our numbers were extremely low we petitioned the province to do regional decision making because the rates were so high in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley they introduced the circuit breaker,” said Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Dan Rogers.

“When they did that it had a massive impact on our businesses even though our rates were low. The line we heard from the province at that time was all of our decisions would be made province-wide and there won’t be any regionally based decision making. Now they have flip-flopped,” Rogers added.

The Interior’s vaccination rate is slightly lower than the provincial average, with 60 per cent of eligible people having received both doses, compared to B.C.’s 63.2 per cent.

Interior Health did not announce an end date for the new measure but says it will be in place for “at least 14 days.

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