Regina, SK (WNews) – The COVID-19 vaccine passport policy in Saskatchewan will end on Monday, Feb. 14. Mandatory masking to remain until the end of the month.
A negative test or proof of vaccination will not be required by the province for businesses, workplaces, or other public venues.
Currently, all Saskatchewan residents must show proof that they have received two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter restaurants, bars, and many other businesses. In addition, they are able to submit a negative COVID-19 test.
Those requirements will be removed Monday.
“We want things to be as normal as they possibly can,” Premier Scott Moe said at a COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
Until the end of February, the provincial government confirmed that other public health orders remain in effect, including masking requirements for indoor public spaces and self-isolation after contracting COVID-19.
Moe said the public health order will not be renewed. Therefore, rules such as mandatory self-isolation for COVID-19 patients will also be repealed by the end of this month.
Sask. The First province to unveil plan
Moe and Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province’s chief medical health officer, laid out the plan at a COVID-19 update on Tuesday.
Saskatchewan has become the first province to announce plans to ease restrictions, with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney saying he will do the same later on Tuesday.
In Saskatchewan, eHealth Saskatchewan will continue to provide residents with proof of vaccination records and QR codes to use anywhere they need them, including when traveling and in other jurisdictions.
The province’s Official Opposition was quick to voice criticism of the decision.
Ryan Meili, leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, said the decision to lift the COVID-19 restrictions is similar to the decisions Moe has made throughout the pandemic.
“My mind goes back to a pattern we’ve seen from Scott Moe throughout the pandemic. He always wants to be the first to remove public health protections and yet be the last to bring them in when they’re needed,” Meili said.
Moe said on Tuesday that it’s time for the province to move forward and past the proof of vaccination policy, which he said was divisive and “effectively created two classes of citizens” in Saskatchewan.
“To my knowledge, this province has never done anything like that before in our history, for any vaccine or for any other reason for that matter,” Moe said.
The premier said it was now time to move on from a policy under which the benefits no longer outweigh the cost.
Moe asked everyone to be understanding of each other’s choices around things like wearing a mask or getting vaccinated.
“Don’t lose a friend to COVID. You might have to take some time apart, but keep that door open,” he said.
“This is a tolerant province, and we are going to need all of that tolerance in the days ahead.”
A Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is now available to all Saskatchewan residents 12 to 17 years old, which is effective immediately.
The booster dose will only be administered five months or more after the child has received their second dose.
As of the announcement, childhood booster doses were only available to adolescents who were immunocompromised or had other health conditions and could be given three months after receiving their second dose of vaccination.
Businesses should talk to lawyers if looking to implement proof of vaccine
In response to a question, Mr. Moe was asked whether businesses that choose to continue requiring proof of vaccination after the province’s mandate is lifted will be protected by law, as they were in the past.
He said businesses will no longer have that legal protection.
“My advice to them would be to consult their lawyer,” the premier said.
The decision is being made in order to have unified access to schools, businesses, and throughout communities in Saskatchewan, the premier said.