Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has announced that all proof of vaccination mandates across the province will be lifted on Feb. 14, with masking requirements ceasing by the end of the month.
“Today, with Omicron, the benefits of the proof of vaccination policy no longer outweigh the costs. This policy most certainly has run its course,” Moe said at a press conference on Feb. 8.
“So it’s time for us to take a step back and start living with COVID and to make every effort to get our lives back to normal.”
Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 14, proof of vaccination requirements will end for all businesses and provincially regulated workplaces in Saskatchewan. This means that vaccination proof or the negative test option will no longer be a provincial requirement, the premier said.
From Feb. 14, masking in public indoor spaces will be the only COVID-19 measure remaining in place, and that will expire at the end of February.
“Today, where we are with reducing hospitalizations, reducing numbers, we’re confident as we move ahead with this phased approach that we are going to take these steps back to normal by reducing and eliminating the public health orders that are in place,” Moe said.
Saskatchewan introduced the proof of vaccination program on Sept. 16, 2021. Moe said at the time, the fourth wave of the pandemic was “driven almost entirely” by the 20–30 percent of the population who chose not to be vaccinated.
He said introducing the proof of vaccination requirement provided “much benefit” in the fight against the Delta variant, but advent of the Omicron variant changed things.
“Today as we deal with a very different strain, the Omicron variant, the benefits of this policy no longer outweigh the costs,” Moe said. “Vaccination as we know is not preventing transmission of Omicron like it did with previous variants.”
The premier said while he continues to encourage Saskatchewan citizens to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the government respects the right of anyone to choose not to be vaccinated.
“It’s time for us also to heal the divisions in our communities over vaccination,” Moe said, noting that disagreement over vaccination has caused rifts not only in Saskatchewan but across the country.
“It’s time for us to come together as families, as friends, as communities, as a province, and as a nation, and it’s time for us to reach out and support one another. Let’s not judge our neighbour because they may be vaccinated or because they may not be vaccinated. Let’s not judge our neighbour if they should choose to wear a mask or not to choose to wear a mask in the weeks ahead,” he said.
“We’d also ask Saskatchewan residents to be gracious and understand that everyone is doing their own personal risk assessment and they might arrive at a different conclusion than you and we should accept that and we should respect each and every one for the decisions that they are making in their environment.”
Moe said that as hospitalizations decline across Canada, he has “no doubt” that other provinces will put forward their own plans to lift COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
He also said the federal government should also “at some point in time” end pandemic-related mandates currently in place for federally regulated sectors.
“Living with COVID and taking steps towards getting life back to normal will vary given the individual cases, individual situations, that we see in various regions of Canada,” he said.
“We should as Canadians know where we are going over the course of the next number of weeks.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misstated the date the vaccine mandate in Saskatchewan would be lifted. The province will end the program on Feb. 14. The Epoch Times regrets the error.