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Saskatchewan’s premier declared its time for freedom as he committed to ending all COVID-19 public health orders, while regions across the country are laying out plans to ease restrictions despite high rates of hospitalization.

“What’s necessary is your freedom. What’s necessary is getting your life back to normal,” Premier Scott Moe said in a video posted to social media.

“It’s time.”

Moe said COVID-19 is not going away but people are done with having to follow public health orders. He said “normalizing” COVID-19 and learning to live with it is the achievable option.

The premier’s message comes after Saskatchewan posted its highest level of hospitalizations in the pandemic. The Saskatchewan Medical Association has condemned loosening health measures, saying it would strain the health-care system.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey, who is also an orthopedic surgeon, said Thursday he understands people are frustrated with lengthy restrictions. But, he said, any changes must be done gradually and with caution.

“There are a few out there who believe freedom is identified and defined by what they are unwilling to tolerate – as if masks, vaccines and health mandates were fences built to restrict them rather than the very tools used to protect them and give them freedom,” Furey said.

That province dropped its alert level, triggering a loosening of restrictions on businesses and group sizes starting Monday. It is also lifting isolation requirements for arriving travellers.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s top doctor was set to hold his first news conference since public health restrictions in that province began to ease this week.

Ontario reported 2,797 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 541 in ICUs. That’s down from 2,939 hospitalizations and 555 people in intensive care the previous day.

The province’s expert pandemic advisers predicted earlier this week that cases there would rise as the partial reopening progresses.

Restaurants, gyms and cinemas, along with other venues, were allowed to reopen to half capacity on Monday, with proof-of-vaccination rules in place for patrons.

Social gathering limits were increased to 10 people indoors and some surgeries that were paused to preserve health system capacity were also allowed to resume.

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