The dos and don'ts of a COVID-safe Easter long weekend in Sask.

·4 min read
Saskatchewan's top doctor recommends people completely avoid gathering over the Easter long weekend. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press - image credit)
Saskatchewan's top doctor recommends people completely avoid gathering over the Easter long weekend. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press - image credit)

With the rising number of COVID-19 cases across southern Saskatchewan, Easter is expected to look quieter for many this year.

Under the current public health restrictions, travel is not recommended in or out of the Regina area unless absolutely necessary.

People in and around Regina also cannot gather with those outside their households — and it's suggested people in Moose Jaw and the southeast region do the same.

Everywhere else in Saskatchewan, up to 10 people from three households are allowed to get together. If they do, Premier Scott Moe suggests they do it outside.

"I would encourage you to plan for an outdoor event — it is just much, much safer," Moe said at Tuesday's provincial COVID-19 update. "We are in the final metres of this race of what is now the variants and the vaccines, and we have substantial vaccines that are on their way, let's not trip in the final steps of the race."

Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, agrees gathering outdoors is a more COVID-friendly option this Easter.

"Gathering indoors — especially in the south — is high risk. Throughout the province, I think families have been surprised when they've gathered and suddenly there's been transmission," he said. "It's been especially sad when they've gathered with the best of intentions, and there were people 50 and older who ended up being hospitalized."

Given the spike in presumptive coronavirus variant cases across the province, especially in the south, Shahab said his "sincere plea" to people in Saskatchewan is to completely avoid gathering this long weekend.

"There's always a lot of social pressure — whether you belong to a faith group or with family — to get together if it's allowed, but I think we just need to hold the course for the next few weeks," he said.

Shahab is not alone in his plea for Saskatchewan people to stay home this Easter. Twenty medical health officers from across the province (including in hotspot Regina) have written a letter addressed to the Saskatchewan people asking for the same.

As many prepare to celebrate the holiday weekend, here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions:

Can I see loved ones if I've received my first and/or second shot of the vaccine?

It depends on where you live.

Regardless of whether you have had your first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Saskatchewan public health measures still have restrictions on gatherings across the province.

In Regina and the surrounding communities, all private indoor gatherings with people outside your immediate household are banned. People who live alone and single parents of minor children are allowed to meet with one consistent household of less than five people. Co-parenting arrangements are allowed to continue as well. Caregivers, support personnel and tradespeople who are not a part of the household are also allowed in homes.

Elsewhere across the province, all private indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people from no more than three households. People are also being advised not to expand their "household bubbles" and stick to the same group.

Outdoor gatherings with up to 10 people are permitted provincewide— as long as households are physically distanced from each other.

Can I leave the Regina area if I've received my first and/or second shot of the vaccine?

Under the province's current travel advisory for Regina and its surrounding communities, travel is not recommended in or out of the Regina area for anyone, unless it's absolutely necessary.

Can I go to an in-person worship service this Easter?

Yes.

Under the current public health restrictions for worship services in Saskatchewan, most communities — with the exception of Regina and its surrounding area — can hold services with 150 people maximum or at 30 per cent capacity, whichever is less.

Worship services in and around Regina must keep to a 30-person maximum.

However, the province still recommends places of worship opt for "delivering services virtually or through remote delivery such as drive-in service" instead.

Can I visit loved ones in long-term care?

In long-term and personal care homes across Saskatchewan, the current public health guidelines limit visits to compassionate reasons, such as end-of-life care, only.

"One healthy visitor is allowed at a time for in-person visits for compassionate reasons. This can include a spouse, common-law spouse, child or stepchild, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling or a support person with whom the resident has had an equivalent relationship," the province's guidelines read.