New COVID restrictions announced in Sask.

Saskatchewan has implemented a new set of restrictions to help control the spread of COVID-19.

The new orders take effect Friday and last until Dec. 17. At that time, they will be reviewed.

The restrictions include limiting all indoor public gatherings to 30 people. Weddings, funerals and worship services are limited to 30, and no food or drink may be served. Also limited to 30 are casinos, bingo halls, arenas, live performance venues and movie theatres.

“The maximum allowable gathering size in your home does remain at five, and gatherings of any size in your home with people who are outside of your direct household are strongly discouraged at this time,” said premier Scott Moe.

Restaurants can seat only four people at a table. There must be three metres between tables unless barriers are in place.

All team sports are on hold, although athletes under the age of 18 may continue practising or training in groups of eight or fewer. Masks are now mandatory for all indoor fitness activities except swimming.

Large retail stores will also have to limit capacity to 50 percent, or four sq. metres per person, whichever is less.

Moe said he realizes some will find these restrictions too strict and others will ask why they don’t go further.

“The reason is this. We do understand this virus better than we did back in the spring,” he said. “We do know more about how it is spread. We need to just slow it down.”

He said a wide-scale shutdown would have a huge negative impact in terms of lost jobs.

“Regardless of what restrictions or closures government puts in place, our best defence is each of our own individual actions,” he said.

“There is no silver bullet to controlling COVID-19.”

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said recent mandatory mask guidelines haven’t done enough to bring case numbers down. The province is at a seven-day average of 214 cases per day.

He said the province hasn’t seen recent large super spreader events but continues to see clusters of cases.

For example, cases among hockey players led to positive cases in schools and workplaces.

Shahab said testing has been robust, but contact tracing has come under pressure.

Hospitalizations are trending upward and are so far being managed, but the experience of other provinces shows that can come under pressure as well, he said.


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