Sask. Premier Scott Moe defends plan to reopen province based on vaccination rates

·3 min read
Premier Scott Moe says Saskatchewan's reopening plan is solid and is based on other successful plans from around the world. (CBC - image credit)
Premier Scott Moe says Saskatchewan's reopening plan is solid and is based on other successful plans from around the world. (CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan's premier says he is confident in his government's plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions in stages tied to the province's vaccination rates.

On Tuesday, the province outlined a three-step reopening plan. Each step is tied to the number of people in the province who have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

For example, Step One would begin three weeks after 70 per cent of people in the province aged 40 and older had been given their first dose of the vaccine. Step One would allow group fitness classes to resume with social distancing, and would allow 30 people to gather indoors publicly.

Speaking to CBC Radio's The Morning Edition and Saskatoon Morning, the premier said that the plan was influenced by reopening schedules around the world and that it is a measured response.

"It's a very moderate move toward reopening," said Moe.

"When you look around the world, there are other nations that have moved forward on their reopening plans in that range of 40 to 45 per cent vaccinated. And that's that's about where we are right now, achieving 44 per cent yesterday."

Critics of the plan said it should be taking other factors into consideration, including the number of people who have received their second dose of vaccine and hospitalization numbers.

Moe said provincial chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab is constantly monitoring COVID-19 related hospital stays, especially the number of patients in intensive care.

The premier said he believes the number of hospital stays will drop as more and more people are vaccinated.

"What we would expect to see is what we've seen in other nations like Israel, like the U.K., even the U.S., where they're ahead of us in their vaccination program," he said.

"Not only do your cases begin to drop, but your hospitalizations drop and drop quite dramatically as that vaccination rate goes up."

Moe also defended the province's decision to not implement interprovincial travel restrictions, despite Alberta having the highest case rate of COVID infections in the country.

"It's very, very challenging for Saskatchewan to clamp down on interprovincial travel," he said.

"We share a city with Alberta, for example. We have people that work on either side of the border ... We have very, very integrated economies."

Moe said the plan was influenced by vaccines becoming more readily available from the federal government. As of Monday, the United States lifted border restrictions on its vaccines, meaning it will be much easier to get doses.

Ultimately, Moe said the plan provides good incentives for people to get vaccinated.

"I think that we need to put a plan forward such as this that incentivizes people to not only continue to follow the public health orders, but provides that thought process for those that may not be rushing out to get vaccinated right now."

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan reported 189 new cases of COVID-19 and a seven-day average of 226 daily new cases.