Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province's mandatory mask order may be lifted as early as July 11, depending on COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the weeks to come.
Moe made the announcement Tuesday during his government's latest COVID-19 news conference.
The order, which requires people wear a mask in all indoor public spaces, will only be lifted once three weeks have elapsed since the beginning of Step 2 of Saskatchewan's reopening plan, and three weeks have passed since 70 per cent of people aged 12 and older have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Moe said that as of Tuesday, 62 per cent of people in that age range had received their first shot.
Even once masks are no longer required, "everybody should do what they feel comfortable doing," Moe said.
Tuesday's announcement about masks does not affect Step 3 of Saskatchewan's reopening plan, which will see most other public health restrictions in the province lifted.
Step 3 will only occur three weeks after Step 2 begins, and once 70 per cent of people 18 and older have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Prior to Tuesday, the Saskatchewan government said it was still mulling its future policy on masks.
"It's really up to Saskatchewan people and how many of us make the choice to protect ourselves and those around us and get vaccinated," Moe said in Tuesday's release. "Because that's really what this is all about. The goal isn't just to meet some target number we have set. The goal is to protect Saskatchewan people, so we can reopen safely."
The Health Ministry said the expected timelines for lifting restrictions are being provided well in advance to allow for the planning of larger public events and family gatherings such as weddings.