Saskatchewan Announces Additional COVID-19 Restrictions

On November 5, 2020, the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan published two public health orders imposing mandatory mask requirements, and further reducing private gathering sizes, with additional restrictions imposed on November 16, 2020, and November 27, 2020. Those orders have been replaced by the new public health order published on December 14 and the new face coverings order published on December 10.

Gathering Sizes

Effective December 17, 2020, indoor private gatherings are restricted to members of a household who ordinarily reside in the same dwelling. The public health order contains an exemption for persons who live alone, who may form a bubble with one other household with fewer than five people in it for the duration of the order and may visit the other household’s private dwelling, provided the gathering is limited to no more than five people.

Certain workers, including caregivers, support personnel and tradespersons, are still permitted to enter private dwellings and are not counted among the number of people in a household.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted, down from the previous limit of 30 people. Physical distancing must be maintained between attendees from different households.

All public indoor gatherings are now prohibited. This prohibition does not apply to critical public services and allowable businesses as long as people are distributed into multiple rooms or buildings and workplaces. Businesses must continue to comply with any specific guidance found in the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan (the “Plan”). The Plan contains specific guidance for retail businesses, transportation, restaurants and licensed establishments, gyms and fitness facilities, and others.

Business Closures and Occupancy Restrictions

Effective December 19, 2020, casinos, bingo halls and gaming centres are ordered to close.

Owners and operators of personal service facilities that are allowed to remain open must ensure that occupancy does not exceed:

  • 50% of the occupant load; or
  • If is not possible to maintain two metre distancing at 50% of the occupant load, the number of occupants at which two metre physical distancing can be maintained

Large retail stores (defined as 20,000 square feet or more) will also be limited to 25% of the occupant load beginning December 25, 2020. Smaller retail stores will be required to comply with the same occupancy requirements as personal service facilities.

The occupancy load requirements pertain to customers only. Staff and owners are not counted towards occupancy limits. However, business owners and operators should attempt to maintain physical distancing between staff whenever possible.

Face Coverings

The face coverings order stipulates that face coverings which “cover the nose and mouth” must be worn in most indoor enclosed settings unless an exemption applies. The use of face coverings is mandatory for customers and staff in most businesses and workplaces, including common areas of workplaces which are not normally accessible to the public. The province has suggested that people err on the side of caution and wear a face covering when they are unsure if the order applies.

The order provides several exemptions, including for persons who cannot wear a face covering due to medical reasons, as determined by a health professional.

The order specifies that persons are not required to wear a face covering while alone in an indoor place to which the public does not normally have access. The order contains further exemptions from the face covering requirement in certain circumstances, including when removing the face covering is required for security or identification purposes, or for the purpose of receiving certain services.

The public health order will remain in effect until January 15, 2021. The face coverings order is in effect until December 18, 2020, and will likely be extended.

MLT Aikins LLP is continuing to monitor for further amendments and updates to public health orders. Employers with any questions regarding accommodation or concerns regarding compliance with public health orders are encouraged to contact our labour and employment law team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.