REGINA—Saskatchewan is tightening public-health measures in and around its capital city over concerns about the spread of COVID-19 variants.
The province says a ban on household guests that was lifted two weeks ago is immediately back in place in Regina and surrounding communities.
Starting Sunday, restaurants and bars will not be allowed to serve customers and will have to switch to takeout or delivery. Community halls, museums, libraries and “any non-essential indoor locations” won’t be able to operate.
The province is not recommending travel in or out of the Regina area unless absolutely necessary.
And it is advising anyone who can work from home to do so.
Premier Scott Moe said the province is in a “very challenging” moment in the pandemic as vaccinations continue but variant cases increase. He says while infections are dropping elsewhere in the province, they’re rising in Regina and it’s “very likely” public health measures will be extended beyond April 5
The city has recently had most of the province’s confirmed and probable cases from more infectious virus strains of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Health on Tuesday reported that 763 of 891 identified variant cases were in the Regina area, which also had 91 of 151 new COVID-19 infections.
Health officials said most of the cases they have confirmed are from the mutation known as B.1.1.7 and first identified in the United Kingdom. This more transmissible variant has become the dominant strain in the Regina area.
Saskatchewan’s overall average of new daily cases was at 158, up from 138 a week ago.
Two school divisions in Regina announced that students will soon be moving to online learning because of the presence of variants.
Earlier Tuesday, the Opposition NDP called on the Saskatchewan Party government to introduce a “circuit-breaker” in Regina to bring down cases and prevent the city’s two hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority said that as of Monday, intensive care units at the Regina General Hospital and Pasqua Hospital were more than 70 percent full.
At the General Hospital, 15 of its 28 ICU beds were in use by COVID-19 patients.
Health officials said there were 152 people in hospital, up from 138 last Tuesday.
By Stephanie Taylor