Sask. declares farming an essential service

The Saskatchewan government says farms are essential workplaces that must follow proper procedure to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

In its daily news release updating the COVID-19 response, the government noted seeding is coming and producers and industry partners should make sure their occupational health and safety guidelines are up to date and in force.

Premier Scott Moe said keeping the agricultural supply chain healthy is crucial.

“It is an essential service,” he said April 13. “We are making every effort to ensure that the supply chain is open.

“This is an area that we may keep an eye on, if you will, with our testing and our contact tracing to make sure we are making every effort to protect our ag producers and those that are working in the industry that is the spinal cord of the Saskatchewan economy.”

Measures on farm yards, in shops and in fields are similar to those for everyone else.

Anyone who has travelled internationally, including the United States, must self-isolate.

Anyone identified by a medical health officer as a close contact of someone with a positive test must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of exposure.

People should actively monitor themselves for symptoms, including cough or fever, and immediately self-isolate for 14 days at the first sign of those symptoms.

Physical distancing of at least two metres is critical even in outdoor workplaces.

Shared surfaces and equipment such as vehicles, tools, doorknobs and work benches should be frequently disinfected.

Frequent hand washing is also required.

Agriculture ministry staff are available by phone and online to deliver agronomic advice and programs.

Although there is no evidence that livestock can be infected by humans or vice versa, producers are urged to have a plan in case they become too ill to care for their animals.

Resources and more information are available on the government’s website at Saskatchewan.ca.

Meanwhile, Moe also said he should be able to release a plan next week for a phased-in and methodical re-opening of certain services and businesses. However, that hinges on how well the virus is controlled over the next while.

He said re-opening would come with vigorous testing, aggressive contact tracing and the ability to manage positive cases.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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