Saskatchewan announced that new restriction measures will take effect on Thursday. Quebec also plans to roll out more lockdown measures on Tuesday.
“We know that much of the community transmission continues to occur in our household settings, as a result this needs to be a different kinds of Christmas,”Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said during a press briefing on Monday. “It needs to be a quieter Christmas.”
Starting Thursday, all private indoor gatherings will be limited to immediate household members only, according to the order. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 persons is permitted, a reduction from 30. Non-medical masks are required in indoor public spaces in Saskatchewan and the City of Lloydminster.
Beginning Dec. 19. casinos and bingo halls must close, while other personal care services such as hair salons must reduce customer occupancy to 50 percent.
On Christmas day, big-box retailers must cut down their store capacity to 25 percent, while smaller-sized retail stores—both those considered essential and non-essential—will be ordered to limit their capacity to 50 percent.
Saskatchewan has recently reactivated an emergency payment program, which offers $5,000 to small and medium-sized businesses in the province.
“We understand that today’s announcement may impact a number of additional small businesses, so those businesses may now, if required, and if they qualify, be able to collect the small business emergency payment,” Moe said.
These new measures, along with other previously announced restrictions, will remain in place until Jan. 15, 2021, when they will be reevaluated by the chief medical officer for changes.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, chief medical health officer for Saskatchewan, said that while the province’s case numbers have not increased as some models have predicted, it is also not going down as quickly as officials would like to see. The province reported 269 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, with 4,380 active cases. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Following Saskatchewan, Quebec is also set to roll out new restrictions. During an interview with CTV News, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he will reveal the details of the new measures at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
“The opportunity we have during the holiday season is that the two places where we have a lot of contagion is schools and companies, including retail stores,” Legault said. “We already have schools … and construction that are closed for two weeks. So how can we add to that to make sure we curb the contagion?”
Legault said he was most worried about the growing number of patients in hospitals, which has a long waiting list for other kinds of surgeries.
On Monday, residents and staff members at two long-term care homes in Quebec began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. A total of 150 people were vaccinated, and the province aims to have 525 persons vaccinated each day.