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
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.
WILL I STILL HAVE TO DON A MASK IN BUSINESSES?
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.
CAN EMPLOYERS REQUIRE STAFF TO BE VACCINATED?
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.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE MASK PROTESTS?
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.