Premier Moe says large gathering limits a possibility, does not want to 'take away personal freedoms'

·2 min read
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe posted a video message Thursday afternoon on social media addressing the government's position as Omicron cases rise in the province. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe posted a video message Thursday afternoon on social media addressing the government's position as Omicron cases rise in the province. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Premier Scott Moe said his government is tracking the spread of the Omicron variant in Saskatchewan but does not want to impose measures that would "take away your personal freedoms."

Moe's message was posted as the province reported 194 new cases — its highest new case count since October. It reported 52 new cases of the Omicron variant, bringing those to a total of 145.

Moe hinted that the government could implement limits on large gatherings in the next few days.

"Some people are wondering why Saskatchewan has not enacted additional health measures like we are seeing in many other provinces. We are tracking the situation very closely and have not ruled out some additional measures around large gathering sizes potentially being introduced in the next week."

Moe said cases are again rising and will continue to, while hospitalizations have fallen to their lowest level since August.

"So far Omicron cases around the world have been mild and that has also been the case in Saskatchewan."

If "serious cases and hospitalizations remain low and manageable" the government won't impose measures that would "shut down activities, restrict businesses and take away your personal freedoms," he said.

Moe encouraged people to do their part to "keep the pressure off of the health system so we don't have to shut down again."

Moe also said people should get their COVID-19 booster, pick up a box of rapid tests, and use those tests if they are getting together with people who are elderly or immune-compromised.

"We should be concerned about Omicron but not panicked," he said. "COVID is going to be with us for a while in one form or another. We can do the things we enjoy, if we are careful."

Opposition calls for gathering limits, Omicron plan

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan Opposition Leader Ryan Meili called for the provincial government to enact capacity and gathering limits that are being introduced in other provinces, including B.C., Alberta and Manitoba.

Meili said the government should follow what its modelling has suggested, that a reduction in mixing of the population would reduce the expected rise in cases.

"There is a shocking disconnect" between what the modelling is showing and the government not implementing additional measures, he said. "It makes zero sense."

Modelling released by chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab showed with current health measures cases driven by the more transmissible Omicron variant would reach more than 300 per day by late January.

The modelling showed that with reduced population mixing, the average daily cases could be fewer than 50 over the same time period.

Submitted by the Province of Saskatchewan
Submitted by the Province of Saskatchewan

Meili said the province's health system is not ready for a new wave of patients infected with COVID-19.

"We're seeing that Omicron surge happen across the country. We know our hospitals are still full from the last wave. We cannot afford to get this wrong," Meili said.

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