Saskatchewan Issues Updated Public Health Order Imposing Self-Isolation for Symptomatic Persons who are Directed for COVID-19 Testing

On September 10, 2020, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer issued a new public health order (“PHO”) under The Public Health Act, 1994.

The PHO provides clarification regarding mandatory self-isolation requirements for persons who have been tested for COVID-19.

The PHO provides that “symptomatic persons that have been directed to receive a test for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results shall go into mandatory self-isolation until such time as a Medical Health Officer determines that they no longer pose a public health threat”.

A person may, among other ways, be “directed” to receive a COVID-19 test in the following circumstances:

  • Directed by a physician;
  • Following a call to HealthLine 811 ; or
  • Following a Public Health contact trace (i.e., via a Medical Health Officer).

Persons who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have been directed for testing in one of the above scenarios must self-isolate while awaiting test results. The requirement for continued self-isolation will depend on the result of the test:

  • Persons who test negative for COVID-19 are still required to self-isolate until 48 hours after the last of their symptoms abate; and
  • Persons who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the day their symptoms began, provided they no longer have a fever.

Once the applicable time period has elapsed, a person is released from mandatory self-isolation.

The Government of Saskatchewan has published additional guidance regarding situations when it is necessary to self-isolate after testing here.

In Saskatchewan, COVID-19 testing is currently available to any person who requests it, whether they are symptomatic or not. However, the PHO does not impose mandatory self-isolation on persons who have received or have been directed to receive a COVID-19 test but are asymptomatic. Others persons who are required to self-isolate pursuant to the PHO are persons who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, persons who have been identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19, and persons who have travelled internationally.

Although an employer cannot direct an employee to receive a COVID-19 test under the PHO, employers should nevertheless ensure that employees who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and refrain from entering the workplace in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. See our blog post Back to Work in Saskatchewan: Employee Screening for guidance on screening employees for COVID-19.

Public Health may also contact employers and employees who are named as a close contact of a person who tests positive for COVID-19. Employers may notify employees when another employee tests positive for COVID-19. Unless the impacted employee gives their consent, the notice should not reveal any identifying information. The Government of Saskatchewan has also indicated that employers are not required to disclose that an employee is being tested for COVID-19. Further information regarding notification requirements for employers is available here.

Employees who are directed to self-isolate are entitled to public health emergency leave, which is intended to protect employees’ jobs when they are required to miss work for COVID-19 related reasons. The leave is unpaid unless the employee continues to work from home while self-isolating, in which case the employee is entitled to regular wages. Our Saskatchewan Enacts Public Health Emergency Leave blog contains additional information on the public health emergency leave.

We have prepared a number of blogs and resources on various issues relating to COVID-19 that employers may also find helpful to review. You can access our COVID-19 resources here.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible rights or remedies. Readers should consult lease agreements for further rights and obligations. 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.