Saskatchewan Reduces Private Gathering Sizes

On October 15, 2020, the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan issued a new public health order which introduced new limits on gatherings in private residences.

A subsequent public health order was issued on October 22, 2020 with minor corrections to the October 15, 2020 order. Indoor private gatherings are now capped at 15 people, down from the previous limit of 30 people. The 15 person restriction applies to any event held in a private residence, including weddings, funerals and religious gatherings. The new restrictions came into effect Friday, October 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

The new public health orders are in response to a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province in recent weeks, particularly over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

The new gathering restrictions do not apply to family members who live in the same household or to critical public services, allowable business services or any activities for which the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan expressly permits or requires a particular gathering size or otherwise contains specific operational guidelines. The Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan is available here.

Indoor public gatherings and outdoor private and public gatherings of up to 30 people are still permissible under the public health orders. Gatherings of more than 30 people are allowed with respect to critical public services and allowable businesses if people may be distributed into multiple rooms or buildings and two-metre social distancing can be maintained. Although the public health orders do not impose any new restrictions on businesses, they must continue to comply with any applicable guidelines found in the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.

At this time, the use of masks is strongly recommended in indoor public spaces but is not mandatory. Masks are currently mandatory on public transit and in some private businesses which have implemented mask requirements.

Anyone who does not comply with public health orders, including gathering restrictions, may face a hefty fine. Fines are up to $2,000 for individuals and $10,000 for corporations. Several fines have already been issued to hosts of private gatherings which breached the previous limit of 30 people.

MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor for further amendments and updates to public health orders. Employers considering the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions on their businesses are invited to contact a member of our labour and employment 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.