Regina– On Nov. 30, Premier Scott Moe made reference of possible easing of COVID-19 socialization restrictions in time for Christmas. On Dec. 1, New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili told Moe during question period, “At this rate, the only thing you’ll be opening for Christmas is a field hospital.”
Speaking to reporters after question period on Dec. 1 regarding current modelling of COVID-19’s spread in Saskatchewan, Moe said, “Modelling is modelling, and not in any way predictions. Modelling is put together to predict what our responses should be.”
He noted a number of initiatives were put in last week, and the government was looking for success by Dec. 17 to only curb the increased rate of infection experienced over the last few weeks, which as also been experienced by the rest of Canada and North America.
Moe said, “If we are able to, in some way, have some type of reprieve, of that rate of transmission, Dr. (Saqib Shahab) is working on what those scenarios may look like, and what recommendations to see what that looks like.
“This is part of the short-term goal, to allow potentially people to see their loved ones for a short period of time, with the appropriate safety, personal protection, to see a loved one in a long-term care centre,” he said.
“In order for that to happen, people need to adhere to the measures that are in place. And we need to see, and Dr. Shahab will speak more specifically to this, as we get closer to December 17, which is the time when we are either going to relax, renew or intensify the restrictions that were put in place last week.”
Responding to a reporter who asked it was his place to provide hope, Moe said, “If it was my place to provide hope, and to provide opportunity, and to provide some targets for people across the province to work towards, between now and December 25th, I think it is.”
He said Quebec will have “a little bit of a different standard” from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27 regarding social gatherings, for instance. Dr. Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, would be making the recommendations, Moe said.
“It may be the status quo,” Moe said.
He expressed hope, saying, “I would think its everyone’s hope that we would be able to see some of our family over Christmas. I, myself, my wife, we are already making plans for that not to happen in our family. Unfortunately, I know many other people across the province are likely having the same conversation with their immediate families.”
Moe noted it’s been a nine, 10 long months across the world, and “we do need some opportunities to look forward to. Christmas maybe one of those opportunities. We're hoping it is it may not be.”
He noted widespread access to a vaccine is another opportunity.
Moe said risk to long-term care facilities can be mitigated through the usage of personal protective equipment.
Meili on Christmas
Meili told reporters, “I think he should acknowledge that he should have acted when the experts said to him, when 400 doctors came up and said, ‘You need to take action now. Do that circuit breaker.’
“That’s what would have saved Christmas. I think trying to spin people a story that somehow we'll be opening up for Christmas at the same time, as we're really going to be opening field hospitals, is dishonest and should not be approached.”
Meili continued, “He should be honest with Saskatchewan people about what the modeling actually says. And that's what frustrates me so much. You’ve got the Minister of Health out here yesterday, trying to tell people that an optimistic scenario that wasn't even realistic, when it was presented, was already passed when it was presented, is still something that's going to happen.
“When they presented this scenario is the modeling to the doctors, they didn't even include that because, they know it's false. If you've got modeling that shows something different than what you're saying, that's being dishonest.
Meili said, “Certainly, I won't be joining my folks for Christmas, which makes me very sad. I hope people are going to make this, we're going to find this really hard, to not be able to get together. I hope that people will be making the wisest choice. And obviously, we'll see what the numbers are doing. But right now, it doesn't look like that's a serious possibility. And I think it's up to the premier to show leadership and responsibility. Be honest with them.”
Meili said, “The premier is the one who is making the decisions. We know that he has made decisions for political reasons that have got us into this situation.”
Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury