Saskatchewan Lifts Capacity Restrictions on Businesses and Gatherings

On Thursday, June 17, 2021, Saskatchewan released a new public health order (PHO) that lifts many of the current capacity restrictions on businesses and gatherings. The PHO is effective as of June 20, 2021, in accordance with Step Two of Saskatchewan’s Re-opening Roadmap.

Gathering Sizes

The PHO significantly increases the limit on public indoor and private outdoor gatherings to 150 people, and continues to permit public outdoor gatherings of 150 people. The limit on indoor private gatherings increases from 10 to 15 people.

As usual, the gathering sizes specified above do not apply to businesses and workplaces – employers should continue to consult the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan for any applicable restrictions on gatherings in the workplace.

Permitted Business Activities

The PHO removes the 25% and 50% capacity thresholds formerly applicable to retail stores and personal service facilities, with the caveat that customers and staff must be able to maintain two metre physical distancing.

Restaurants and bars will no longer have limitations on the number of individuals who may be seated at a table, booth or counter. The current requirements for barriers between tables, social distancing and masking while not seated remain in effect.

Events such as meetings, conferences, parties, and other ceremonies, such as receptions, weddings, or funerals may now serve food and beverages. Organizers must ensure they serve food and beverages in a designated area, and that guests consume food in this area, which is separate from any other events or activities. Other events such as musical or theatrical performances, live performances, fashion or music shows, educational presentations, auctions or contests, festivals, athletic events or exhibitions, and markets or fairs may not provide food and beverage service at this time.

Care home residents may now receive up to four visitors indoors and up to nine visitors outdoors.

Finally, there is now a mask exemption for players and on-court referees of the Canadian Elite Basketball league during game time.

Employers must continue to ensure they comply with ongoing requirements in the PHO as the Province lifts more restrictions. For instance, although the Government has lifted specific capacity restrictions on retail and personal service businesses, the requirement to physically distance may create a de facto limit on capacity. Employers who wish to serve food or beverages at workplace events should ensure that the event is a permitted event as described above, and should ensure they make appropriate arrangements to separate the food and beverage portion of the event from any other activities.

Step Three of Re-Opening

On June 20, 2021 the Government of Saskatchewan released a statement indicating that Step Three of the Re-Opening Roadmap will begin on Sunday July 11, 2021, three weeks after Step Two. At that time, the Saskatchewan Government could remove most remaining restrictions, including masking. Even if the Province lifts all of the public health orders, there may still be recommendations for particular public health and occupational health and safety measures to remain in place depending upon the nature of the workplace. Employers should review the situation once the Government lifts the orders to determine if it is appropriate to continue some or all safety protocols, even if not expressly mandated by a public health order. MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor developments with respect to COVID-19 and the workplace. Stay tuned for further insights on Step Three of the Re-Opening Roadmap and other issues as more information becomes available.

Employers with questions regarding how the new PHO guidelines may impact their workplace should contact one of our labour and employment lawyers.

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.