People in Saskatchewan hoping to host a big wedding after July 11 can now start planning for their celebration.
The Saskatchewan government says it will lift all public health measures by July 11 — including the mandatory masking and gathering size limits — even though the province hasn't reached its final COVID-19 vaccination target.
Currently, 70 per cent of residents over the age of 18 have received their first dose, but only 69 per cent of all residents 12 and older got their first shots.
"As we are now so close to the final threshold, we are able to announce that Step 3 will be fully implemented on Sunday, July 11," Premier Scott Moe said Sunday in the province's COVID-19 update.
Initially the full implementation of Step 3 of the re-opening roadmap wasn't supposed to be triggered until 70 per cent of residents 12 and older got their first shot of vaccine.
In a video message on Twitter, Moe said the province will "hit that target in the next couple of days."
"You may wish to continue wearing your mask in certain situations," he added, "but that will be up to you."
As of Sunday, Saskatchewan has entered Step Two of its re-opening plan.
Private indoor gatherings now increase to 15 people from 10. Restaurants are no longer required to enforce a limit on table capacity.
2nd shots available
Saskatchewan administered an additional 16,084 vaccinations on Saturday, according to the province, bringing the total number of vaccines to 997,818.
Everybody who received their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 15 can get their second dose starting Monday.
All Saskatchewan people 12 and older become eligible for their second vaccination by June 24.
New case 7-day average down to 69
The province reported 60 new cases on Sunday, a small rise from 55 on Saturday. The seven-day average of daily new cases is now 69.
The total number of cases in Saskatchewan so far is 48,441, according to the province, with 743 cases considered active.
The new cases were in the following regions:
Far northwest: four.
Far northeast: one.
North central: four.
Central west: one.
South central: three.
Health officials also announced one more death related to COVID-19.
The person was aged 70 to 79 and from northwestern Saskatchewan, according to the province.
As of Sunday there are 79 infected Saskatchewan residents in hospital, including 12 people under intensive care.
Rise of Delta variant cases
While more and more people are getting vaccinated, COVID-19 testing also continues in Saskatchewan.
The province processed 1,384 tests on Saturday.
11,955 variants of concern have been identified in Saskatchewan as of Saturday.
Within two days, the province jumped from 70 Delta variant cases to 105 reported on Sunday.
Due to the increasing risk of the Delta variant, 2nd doses must be completed as soon as possible once people become eligible, according to the Saskatchewan government.
In his Twitter message, Moe acknowledged that COVID-19 has not disappeared, reminding people without a vaccination that they are still at risk.
However, with COVID-19 numbers down and vaccination numbers up, Saskatchewan's premier is also optimistic.
"Saskatchewan has become a much safer place."