Saskatchewan is tightening restrictions on group sizes and limiting how many people can attend worship services as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said the level of transmission remains too high in many parts of the province.
“Until more of us get vaccinated there’s still a chance of catching COVID-19,” he said Tuesday.
The updated public-health orders limit people to associating within their immediate household bubbles effective immediately.
It also restricts church gatherings to no more than 30 people as of Friday.
Merriman said he hopes to avoid more restrictions, but the measures are needed until more people can get vaccinated. Both restrictions are in place until April 26 pending a review at that time.
Opposition NDP health critic Vicki Mowat said Saskatchewan Party Premier Scott Moe should have imposed the new restrictions sooner.
“Scott Moe saw the modelling and knew the variants were on the rise,” she said in a statement.
“Instead of acting to win the race between the vaccines and the variants, he gave the variants a head start.”
There were 288 new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday and two more deaths. Both people were from the Regina area, which has become a hot spot for variants of concern.
There were 202 people in hospital including 41 in intensive care.
Eligibility for vaccinations was also expanded to residents aged 52 and older. The minimum age dropped to 40 for people living in the Far North.
The province said it is also expanding the vaccine delivery plan for people in more vulnerable groups to include all pregnant women and 16- and 17-year-olds who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable. Those deemed to be medically vulnerable will receive a letter from their doctor.
The province has opened drive-thru vaccination clinics in communities across the province. In Regina, the drive-thru expanded eligibility to include people between the ages of 49 and 54.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021.
The Canadian Press