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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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