By John Agioritis and Erica Klassen
On September 30, 2021, the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan published a public health order requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter certain businesses and establishments. The order takes effect on October 1, 2021, and applies to all non-exempt businesses and other organizations within the province.
Affected Businesses and Organizations
The order applies to the following businesses and organizations:
- restaurants that are not fast food restaurants;
- nightclubs, bars, taverns, party buses and other establishments and transportation licenced to serve alcohol;
- event and entertainment venues, including:
- conference centres, meeting rooms and banquet facilities (unless used for a court or tribunal proceeding);
- casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
- concert venues;
- live-music venues;
- facilities hosting ticketed sporting events;
- fitness centres and gyms; and
- stand-alone liquor and cannabis sales locations.
The businesses and organizations listed above must ask all patrons and volunteers 18 and older to provide one piece of ID and either:
- proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or
- that they have received a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.
When accompanied by a person over 18 who has provided their ID and proof of vaccination or a negative test, patrons and volunteers between 12 to 17 years old are not required to provide ID, but must still provide proof of vaccination or a negative test.
The order does not require proof of vaccination or a negative test if an individual enters a business solely to use the washroom, place or pick up an order, pay for an order, or for another reason that may be necessary for health and safety.
The order specifically prohibits anyone from creating or modifying documents that purport to provide proof of vaccination or negative test results. The order also prohibits anyone from attempting to gain access to a business using fraudulent documents.
Any person or business owner who fails to comply with the public health order could be subject to significant fines.
Exempt Businesses and Organizations
The following businesses and organizations are not required by the order to obtain proof of vaccination or a negative test:
- fast food restaurants that offer quickly prepared food primarily for pick-up and do not offer table or liquor service;
- retail businesses;
- places of worship (except for certain uses such as for events or entertainment);
- off-sale liquor stores and liquor stores located in other retail stores;
- health care, professional or personal services;
- public libraries;
- hotels and other lodging;
- facilities hosting amateur sporting events;
- private gatherings held at public venues, such as weddings and funerals; and
- private gatherings at private residences.
The public health order only applies to access to businesses for the public or for volunteers. Employers of exempt businesses may still require their employees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to maintain a safe work environment. See our prior MLT Aikins insights for further details on requirements for public and private sector employers and employees.
The proof of vaccination and testing requirements under the public health order are not necessarily comprehensive of all potential measures available to employers and business to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The public health order will remain in effect until at least October 20, 2021. MLT Aikins LLP is continuing to monitor for further amendments and updates to public health orders that may regulate public access to businesses and other establishments. Employers with any questions regarding compliance with proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing requirements under the public health order 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.