Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province has successfully flattened the curve of COVID-19 infections and will outline a plan on Thursday to gradually reopen some sectors of the economy beginning next month.
Mr. Moe used a televised address on Wednesday evening to caution that the process will be slow and methodical, and many restrictions in place now will remain for the foreseeable future.
“It’s not like flipping on a light switch,” said Mr. Moe. “If anything, it’s more like a dimmer switch that’s been turned down. And over the next several weeks, we will gradually be turning up the light once again on Saskatchewan’s economy.”
Saskatchewan has confirmed 326 cases of COVID-19, including six additional cases on Wednesday, and four deaths. Mr. Moe said that on a per capita basis, Saskatchewan is 70 per cent below the national average for infections while testing at a higher-than-average rate.
Several provinces have started talking about when they will be able to reopen areas of their economies and what that might look like, though few have laid out specific dates for when that will happen.
Mr. Moe said Saskatchewan’s plan, which was developed with the province’s medical health officer, will include five phases with proposed dates for each phase. That timeline may be adjusted as the province tracks COVID-19 infections.
He said any business that is permitted to open must follow stringent requirements for physical distancing and cleaning, referring to measures that are already in place at grocery stores as an example.
Existing restrictions on large events and measures imposed on long-term care homes, such as limiting visitors and prohibiting staff from working at multiple facilities, will remain in place, he said.
Mr. Moe said the province will focus on aggressive testing and contact tracing. Saskatchewan has the fourth-highest rate of testing in the country.
Prince Edward Island, where there have been 26 confirmed cases, is aiming to start lifting restrictions on outdoor activities and elective surgeries late next week, with an eye toward reopening businesses in mid-May. The government in New Brunswick, which has recorded 118 cases, has raised the possibility of adopting a similar timeline.
In British Columbia, with 1,795 cases and 90 deaths, the government has said it is putting together plans to reopen schools, businesses and other activities, but it has yet to settle on a timeline other than to say elective surgeries could resume next month.
Manitoba plans to release a plan next week.
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