Worship services stay capped at 30 people in Regina area over COVID variant concerns

·2 min read

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says it will hold off on easing capacity restrictions on worship services in and around Regina over concerns about the spread of more infectious COVID-19 variants in the region.

Starting Friday, a health restriction that caps religious services in the province to 30 people is set to lift to allow up to 150 worshippers, or 30 per cent capacity, whichever is less.

But the Ministry of Health said Tuesday that services in the Regina area will remain capped at 30 people until at least April 5.

The health zone that includes the capital city and surrounding communities is home to nearly half of Saskatchewan's 1,292 active COVID-19 infections.

Health experts for weeks have warned that if more transmissible strains of COVID-19 take hold in the community it could lead to more people falling severely ill.

The province reported 66 new confirmed cases of more infectious variants Tuesday, mostly all in the Regina area.

Health officials say 122 of the 136 confirmed variant cases have been in the region, which is also home to 186 of the 210 infections they also believed to be caused by a mutation.

So far, the variant seen most often in Saskatchewan has been the one first detected in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7.

The province is urging Regina residents — especially 50 and older — not to see anyone outside their own households because of the increased transmission risk.

On Tuesday, 101 of the 156 new COVID-19 cases reported were located in the Regina area. There were 138 people in hospital with the virus provincewide, with 31 receiving intensive care.

Two additional deaths were reported, including someone in the Regina area.

Last week, Premier Scott Moe lifted a ban on household visits to allow gatherings of up to 10 people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press