COVID-19 in Saskatoon: Metropolis addresses metropolis providers amid ‘essential standing’ of Omicron
The City of Saskatoon says it has reached a critical status of cases of the Omicron variant — 2,279 active cases as of Monday afternoon — with modelling showing the virus will increase exponentially in the coming weeks, peaking either at the end of January or early February.
“What we’ve seen in other jurisdictions is that Omicron will peak, and then drop very quickly,” director of emergency management Pamela Goulden-McLeod said Monday at a special meeting of City Council.
City manager Jeff Jorgenson said that after consultation with medical health officers and looking at all the facts, administration is not recommending any changes to public-facing services.
“Our focus is very much on the internal actions we’re taking from a staffing perspective, to do everything we can to ensure business continuity.”
Goulden-McLeod said because of the increase in cases there will likely be a disruption in services, and the city has a business continuity plan to mitigate that.
“This includes mandatory proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of negative testing all of our leisure centers and arenas,” she said.
“We also have the requirement that you do not enter any of our facilities if you have any of the symptoms of COVID, have tested positive for COVID, or have been deemed a close contact.”
“In addition, we have masking requirements in all locations following the public health order, there are barriers in place, additional cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing, and I should note that our user groups also have their own protocols in place and many of these are extremely strong protocols.”
The city says facilities such as leisure centres and arenas will be not be closed, as they have not shown to be drivers in transmission.
“We have not seen any outbreaks at our facilities,” said director of recreation and community developments Andrew Roberts.
“Our city leisure centres and indoor arenas continue to provide a valuable resource to the community for mental and physical well-being during these challenging times, especially in the winter when outdoor activities can be impacted by the weather.”
The city says there have been concerns from groups with underlying health concerns about using the walking tracks at the Shaw Centre and the Field House, where under the current provincial health order, people are not required to wear a mask while participating in an activity.
“We are currently working with the SHA since late last week to provide some dedicated times for use of the walking track at the Shaw Centre that would allow them to institute additional protocols including masking of their participants during these dedicated times,” said Roberts.
“The Shaw Centre walking track supports this plan as it is a dedicated, isolated, standalone amenity inside the facility, and it can accommodate these dedicated times without negatively impacting other users.”
Roberts said the same can’t be said about the walking track at the Field House, because of the complexity of events and the high number of users.