The City of Regina will re-implement mandatory masking in indoor city facilities and on Regina Transit this Saturday.
City manager Chris Holden announced the shift in policy at a news conference on Tuesday, citing a need to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect city employees.
"The health and safety of City of Regina residents and employees is our top priority," Holden said.
The masking requirement will be in place for Regina Transit buses heading to the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 5.
It will not apply to the game at Mosaic Stadium, as it is considered an outdoor facility. However, masking is strongly being encouraged at Roughrider games.
The mandate will apply to events held at the Brandt Centre.
Holden said he hopes that everyone understands masks are effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19 and that vaccination remains the best option to protect against the virus.
"The most important way to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbours is for every eligible individual to be vaccinated," he said.
Proof of vaccination for public and employees
Regina will also move to requiring proof of vaccination for anyone entering its facilities.
City employees will be required to show proof of vaccination by Sept. 15, according to Holden.
That requirement will not apply to members of the Regina Police Service, with the force developing its own policies under the Board of Police Commissioners.
The general public will be required to prove vaccination status to enter city facilities by Sept. 20. How that will work is still being developed, Holden said.
The city's decision and its timeline for vaccination requirement is reliant on the Government of Saskatchewan's announcement of a digital QR code tied to an individuals MySaskHealthRecord vaccination record. That system is expected to roll out by mid-September.
Holden said the city has communicated to the province that the technology is important for Regina's plans.
He said the city government plans to move forward with requiring proof of vaccination for staff whether or not a QR code is ready by Sept. 15.
However, any delay in the development of the technology could force the city to change its plan for the requirement for the public to provide proof of vaccination.
The city said staff unable to get vaccinated may alternatively be allowed to show they have had a negative COVID-19 test. That may be done through rapid testing, although that issue is still being explored.
Members of the public unable to show proof of vaccination will need to provide proof of a negative test in order to access city facilities.
City can't implement measures at private businesses
Julie Leggott, the premier's press secretary, said the city can implement measures over areas in which it holds jurisdiction.
"As employers, municipalities have the ability to implement policies related to the civic workers in municipal-owned facilities; they also have the ability to implement policies for members of the public attending municipal-owned property," she said.
This distinction paves the way for the Saskatchewan Roughriders to require fans to provide vaccination record or a negative test.
Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) is a not-for-profit corporation that operates Evraz Place. The city owns the land and assets at Evraz Place, which includes Mosaic Stadium and Brandt Centre.
The provincial government said the city of Regina and Saskatoon do not have the ability to mandate measures on non-city owned facilities.
"The city would not have the authority to implement public health measures to private businesses and other private establishments, who continue to make their own operating decisions including measures relating to COVID-19," Leggott said.
The update comes on the heels of Saskatoon's decision on Monday to once again make masks mandatory at civic facilities and on public transit, and to begin regularly testing city employees for COVID-19.
For Saskatoon, this is a return to most of the public health measures in place prior to the province lifting restrictions on July 11.
COVID-19 numbers are once again rising throughout Saskatchewan, with the province currently reporting more than 2,000 known active cases.
As of Aug. 30, 106 of those cases were in the Regina area.