Masks obligatory on Saskatoon Transit, in metropolis amenities as of Sept. 1 – Saskatoon

The City of Saskatoon says it is bringing back masking measures to address the rising COVID-19 cases in the city.

City officials said it is also implementing new safety measures for staff, including mandatory testing.

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Saskatoon city council debates new mask mandate

As of Wednesday, masks are required on Saskatoon Transit and when accessing indoor city facilities and services.

“As we approach the busy fall and the back-to-school activities season, it is important that we rally together to help support our health-care system,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod, director of Saskatoon’s Emergency Management Organization.

“We need to do all we can to protect those who cannot be vaccinated such as children under age 12 and anyone with a health condition where vaccination is not an option.”

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Mayor Charlie Clark, at a press conference on Tuesday morning, said he hoped the measures would prevent the need for further, more onerous restrictions in the future.

“I think it is very important that we all take steps to do these measures so that we can keep our economy going, keep our health system working, keep people safe,” he said, telling reporters that Saskatoon is facing one of the most serious transmission situations in the country.

The city’s medial health officer, Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, said hospitals are already filling up.

“I heard the word ‘drowning’ from colleagues of mine in the emergency departments here in Saskatoon,” she said.

She applauded the city’s efforts to control the spread because, she said, transmission of the virus during the fourth wave is more opaque than it was during earlier waves.

“Case numbers are helpful but they are difficult to understand in the context of a partially vaccinated immunized population,” she said.

About 68 per cent of the Saskatchewan population are fully vaccinated.

City officials said non-medical masks must be worn at all indoor leisure centres, arenas, golf course buildings and at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo.

Masks must also be worn for all physical activities, with the exception of acquatics.

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Modifications are also being made to swim lessons, with instructors delivering lessons from the pool deck expect when giving a demonstration. Some swim programs will now require a parent or guardian to be in the water with kids taking part in the program.

The city is also dropping the requirement to pre-book for a majority of its drop-in programming.

Rather than enforcement of the measure, city officials said instead they will focus on education.

“We’ve looked at how we can safely meet the demand for our programs and services,” Goulden-McLeod said.

“Requiring the use of masks is an important step to protect the health and safety of our customers and staff.”

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Saskatchewan rolling out COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

City officials said a more assertive approach is being taken to staff safety due to the “rapid and uncontrolled rise of COVID-19 cases in the Saskatoon region.”

That will include regular mandatory rapid tests for all staff reporting to the workplace regardless of their vaccination status.

“Tests identify asymptomatic cases of COVID before they can enter the workplace, including in those who are fully vaccinated who are still able to catch and transmit the virus,” Goulden-McLeod said.

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“Rapid tests are also less intrusive and due to the way the process is designed, staff members are not required to share any personal health information with the city.”

The measure was supported by city council at its meeting on Aug. 30.

City council is also asking for information on the potential implementation of vaccine requirements for staff, in consultation with health authorities.

Councillors have also asked administration to report back with advice on applying proof of vaccination at civic events, events at facilities and other relevant gatherings.


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Global News asked several Saskatoon residents what they thought of the return of a mask mandate in city facilities and on buses.

Most were in favour or at least acquiescent to the measure and to the proposal to show their vaccination status.

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“That’s just common sense,” Noel Mason said of the proof-of-vaccination measure.

“I’ve got mine in my bag and even the piercing place I’m at to get my ears done, they require either a mask or proof of vaccination.”

“If you compare the rate of people dying because of this COVID (pandemic), I mean, it’s a little sacrifice to pay, right?” Kemi Adegoke, another said.

“Wear your mask.”

The only person to whom Global News spoke who was indifferent was Jade Lewis, who is 27 and not vaccinated.

She said she has forgone getting immunized because it’s “my body, my choice” and because she’s concerned about potential side effects of the vaccine.

Medical officials have repeatedly stated vaccines are safe.

She said she would get her shots if she needs to be vaccinated to, for example, go inside a building she wishes to enter.

“Then and only then” would she be immunized, she said.

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