REGINA — Saskatchewan is changing self-isolation requirements for residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Ministry of Health says most people who are 14 days past their second dose and asymptomatic will not need to self-isolate if they come in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
Premier Scott Moe, who had to self-isolate for ten days earlier in the pandemic, said the new rules should be seen as "a pretty significant benefit of getting vaccinated."
Anyone with symptoms — even mild ones — will still have to self-isolate, as will people who are unvaccinated or have only received one dose.
Public health officials can also require fully vaccinated close contacts to isolate if they have an increased risk of serious illness or live in high-risk locations.
Moe also said the province will set up mobile and pop-up clinics this week to deliver more first vaccine doses. In recent weeks, the rate of delivery of first doses has slowed in the province.
"Vaccines have never been more plentiful, never been more accessible in your community or closer to you," he said. "Don’t put it off any longer. Let’s go today, let’s go this week and let’s get our first shot."
Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said the clinics will be located "where Saskatchewan residents live, work and play."
"You’ll see pop-ups beginning to appear on various sports fields across the province, targeting football league games and other recreational activities," he said.
Livingstone said other clinic locations will include downtown malls and pedestrian areas in urban centres as well as waterparks, beaches and other popular summer destinations.
"We’re going to bring the vaccine to locations where the younger populations that we are targeting have access," he said.
Beginning Thursday, the eligible age for second doses in Saskatchewan is expected to drop to 45 and older. By next week, Moe said, every Saskatchewan resident aged 12 and older will be eligible for their second shot as long as enough time has passed since their first.
And Moe said he's hoping to see a strong first dose uptake in the days ahead — if 70 per cent of Saskatchewan adults get vaccinated by Sunday, the province would remain on track to hit the third step in its reopening plan by July 11th.
"We're actually less than one per cent away from that threshold," said Moe. "We just need one per cent more Saskatchewan people to reach out and get their shot for us to reach that target. ... and when step three starts, most COVID restrictions are then removed."
The second step in Saskatchewan's reopening plan, which will relax restrictions on bars, restaurants, gatherings and places of worship, is scheduled to begin this Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2021.
— By Julia Peterson in Saskatoon
The Canadian Press