This blog was originally published on April 23, 2020.
On April 23, 2020, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab introduced “Re-Open Saskatchewan,” which sets out the government of Saskatchewan’s five-phase plan to slowly and responsibly lift restrictions on businesses and services.
Restrictions will be lifted in distinct stages, which are based on socio-economic factors and the risk of transmission. The timing and order of which businesses/workplaces are currently slated to reopen is set out below.
This phased reopening of economies will not be a simple matter of opening the doors and returning to “business as usual.” Businesses will be required to follow stringent physical distancing and cleaning procedures. Restrictions on travel, large gatherings and senior care homes will also remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Faced with onerous new public health standards, business services of all kinds will be confronted with increased exposure to liability and many other unique legal challenges. To assist as Saskatchewan proceeds with the five-phase plan, this web page will be updated on a regular basis to outline the resources available to your organization as you navigate returning to business.
Commencing May 4, medical services will be permitted to reopen, as will low-risk outdoor recreational activities. Gatherings will remain restricted to no more than 10 people.
Medical services include: dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, optician services, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment. Where physical distancing is not possible, providers are required to take precautionary measures such as provider and client screening and the usage of gloves and face masks. As a result, providers may not be able to immediately deliver a full range of services. Other restrictions on medical services include restrictions on numbers of persons in waiting areas and the spaces between persons, screening clients for visible symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and cleaning and disinfecting common areas and commonly touched objects.
Low-risk outdoor recreational activities permitted in this phase are fishing and boat launches (May 4), golf (May 15) and parks and campgrounds (June 1), with online registrations for provincial parks launching on May 4.
Beginning May 19, retail businesses and select personal services will be permitted to reopen. Gatherings will remain restricted to no more than 10 people.
Retail businesses included in this phase are: clothing stores, shoe stores, flower shops, sporting good/adventure stores, vaping supply shops, boats, ATV and snowmobile dealers, gift, book and stationery stores, jewelry and accessory stores, toy stores, music electronic and entertainment stores, pawn shops and travel agencies.
Select personal services that will be permitted to reopen are: hairdressers/barbers, registered massage therapists, acupuncturists and acupressurists.
As with medical services, where physical distancing is not possible, providers are required to take precautionary measures such as client screening and wearing gloves and face masks – meaning providers may not be able to immediately deliver a full range of services. They will also need to follow the guidance currently being followed by essential businesses in relation to hand washing, intensive cleaning and structuring stores to enable physical distancing.
The government has not yet determined when phases three through five will begin. Instead, each phase will only be implemented following an evaluation of transmission of COVID-19 in the province. In other words, they are dependent upon the success of the preceding phases.
In the third phase, personal services not permitted to re-open during phase two will be permitted to reopen, as will restaurant and food services, gyms, and fitness facilities, licensed establishments and childcare facilities. The size of gatherings will increase to 15 people, but notwithstanding the 15 person restriction, restaurants, bars, lounges, food courts, cafeterias, cafes, bistros and other similar facilities will be allowed up to 50% of their regular capacity.
Personal services include in this phase are: estheticians, tattoo artists, cosmetologists, electrologists, manicurists, pedicurists, sun tanning parlours, facilities in which body piercings, bone grafting or scarification services are provided, and other personal service facilities.
When the fourth phase is implemented, indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment facilities will be permitted to re-open. Physical distancing practices will remain in place, but the size of gatherings will increase to a maximum of 30 people.
Included in this phase are casinos, bingo halls, arenas, curling rinks, swimming pools, municipal parks and playgrounds, galleries, theaters, museums and similar facilities, as well as seasonal programming, camps, and recreational and athletics activities.
The final phase, phase five, will include consideration of lifting long-term restrictions.
All restrictions set out in the current public health orders in place in Saskatchewan (described in our Insight COVID-19: Complying with Saskatchewan’s Public Health Orders – What it Means for Individuals and Businesses) will remain in place subject to where these restrictions are lifted or modified, as noted above.
In each of the five phases, businesses will face not only operational and financial issues relating to their own reopening, but will also be required to comply with an evolving regulatory regime never before seen in Saskatchewan. Throughout this process, MLT Aikins encourages any business to contact us for more specific information regarding compliance with Re-Open Saskatchewan and for assistance with related matters. Our firm advises clients on how to navigate the legal and regulatory challenges facing them as they look ahead in these uncertain times.