REGINA — Saskatchewan is setting May 30 as the target date for the first step of its COVID-19 "Re-opening Roadmap."
Premier Scott Moe is citing vaccinations and co-operation with public health measures as reasons the province can move forward.
An announcement from the province issued Sunday says restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate on the target date with a maximum of six to a table, with distance between other tables.
The limit now is four, except in Regina where in-person dining is not currently allowed.
Places of worship will be able to hold services with 30 per cent capacity, with no more than 150 people, and group fitness classes can resume with three metres distance between participants.
Gathering limits will rise, although current protocols for schools and post-secondary will remain in place, and the province-wide mask mandate will stay in effect.
"We are able to move forward with Step 1 of the Re-Opening Roadmap because so many Saskatchewan people are doing their part and getting vaccinated, and because we are all following the public health orders and guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Moe said in a news release.
New case numbers in Saskatchewan are still high. The province's daily pandemic update noted there were 177 new COVID-19 infections, but there were no new deaths.
New vaccinations, however, set a record on the weekend, with 13,651 new injections reported Sunday.
The province says more than 70 per cent of Saskatchewan residents age 40 and older have received their first shot of COVID-19 vaccine, surpassing the threshold for Step 1 of the reopening plan.
The other threshold for Step 1 was that all adults 18 and over would have access to vaccines by the target date, and the province says that goal is anticipated to be reached by May 30.
"The road back to normal runs right through our vaccination clinics and pharmacies," Moe said.
Current restrictions will remain in place for retail, personal care services, event facilities, casinos, bingo halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries and recreational facilities.
Dance floors and buffets in restaurants and bars will remain closed, although VLTs may reopen. Physical distancing between households must be maintained in places of worship.
The announcement says the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor health system capacity.
To date, Saskatchewan has administered 518,133 vaccine doses.
On Friday the government said all residents who are 12 and older will be eligible for the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by May 20.
The eligible age for adults to get vaccinated dropped to 32 on Saturday and will go down every second day until May 20, dependent on vaccine supply. If deliveries are delayed, officials said the schedule would be revised.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2021.
The Canadian Press