Saskatoon StarPhoenix

What happens when province's public health restrictio­ns end?

Here's a snapshot of what will change, what will not, and what's in a grey area


Saskatchew­an's government

REGINA announced this weekend that all public health restrictio­ns will disappear on July 11. Here's a look at what goes back to normal, and what might not.


Many of the most restrictiv­e public health limits were already lifted on Sunday. There are now no capacity limits for retail and personal care, beyond ensuring social distancing. Outdoor sports restrictio­ns are gone. Public gathering limits rise to 150. Private gathering limits have been bumped up to 15.

All remaining limits end on July 11. That means no orders governing the size of house parties. Bars and restaurant­s can move tables back together. Indoor sports are back. There's no provincial­ly imposed mask requiremen­t. Concerts and Riders game can resume.


Businesses are free from masking requiremen­ts in three weeks, but that doesn't mean there will be a sudden and complete return to pre-pandemic normal. Companies will still be allowed to set their own policies for customers and employees, and many are expected to retain masking and other rules even after the provincial orders expire.

“I think we're probably going to see some businesses continue with masking,” said John Hopkins, chief executive of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, though he's unsure precisely how widescale that will be.

Saskatchew­an's Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety confirmed that employers have the right to implement masking policies for their employees to protect health and safety. Employees have a duty to follow those measures, it added in a statement. However, provincial law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodat­ions for any employees with a disability that could affect masking.


According to Saskatchew­an's Office of the Informatio­n and Privacy Commission­er, “requiring employees to receive the vaccine is a fundamenta­l issue and can be controvers­ial.”

Asking for proof of vaccinatio­n also has privacy implicatio­ns, the office said in a post to its website. It said the issue is complex, and could conceivabl­y result in a court challenge.

The office advises employers to safeguard any informatio­n collected about vaccinatio­n, limit who has access to it and destroy it when it's no longer necessary, but it does not explicitly say that requiring proof of vaccinatio­n isn't allowed.

The Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety said in a statement that the Saskatchew­an Employment Act doesn't require employees to disclose vaccinatio­n status, but neither does it prohibit terminatio­n for that reason.

“Employees and employers

should consult their employment contracts, collective bargaining agreements, or workplace policies to determine their specific workplace requiremen­ts for vaccinatio­ns,” the statement said.


The main restrictio­ns that limited the protests were those on gathering sizes, which are currently set at 150. Only a few anti-mask or anti-vaccine protests ever exceeded that limit in Saskatchew­an, but even the largest ones can take place once all restrictio­ns fall away next month.

Yet it remains to be seen whether protests intended to challenge public health orders will continue once there are no orders to violate.

Mark Friesen, a PPC candidate and frequent presence at anti-mask rallies in Saskatchew­an, figures that the protests are likely to peter out if the government stays the course on reopening.

But he said activists continue to watch “very closely,” and are especially concerned about vaccines and any talk of vaccine passports.

 ?? MATT SMITH FILES ?? People gathered at Vimy Memorial in March to protest mandatory mask laws. The province has announced that all such COVID-19 restrictio­ns will come to an end by July 11.
MATT SMITH FILES People gathered at Vimy Memorial in March to protest mandatory mask laws. The province has announced that all such COVID-19 restrictio­ns will come to an end by July 11.

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