Metropolis of Saskatoon to ease restrictions in step with provincial plan

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In general, requirements for mask-wearing and physical distancing will be dropped. However, barriers installed during the pandemic will stay up and increased cleaning will remain in place.

Author of the article:

Bryn Levy

Publishing date:

Jul 08, 202127 minutes ago4 minute read Join the conversation The Saskatoon City Hall building. The Saskatoon City Hall building. Photo by Matt Smith /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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The City of Saskatoon has announced plans for the resumption of in-person services and the loosening of pandemic restrictions as the province prepares to rescind public health orders issued to control COVID-19.

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All provincial health orders, including mask mandates and limits on gathering sizes, will be removed effective Sunday.

A City of Saskatoon media release issued late Thursday afternoon promised a “phased and methodical” approach to returning to normal when it comes to city services. That said, the city committed to a number of measures to take effect on July 11 in conjunction with the end of the provincial restrictions.

Requirements for mask-wearing and physical distancing will be dropped. However, barriers installed during the pandemic will stay up, and increased cleaning will remain in place. Staff, visitors or customers in city buildings may continue to wear masks and distance where possible if they choose, the release stated.

City staff who have been working from home will begin returning in the coming months, with about 30 per cent of staff expected to be back in the office by Sept. 1.

The release noted that some staff will continue masking and physical distancing “for some tasks or meetings, including those who work in critical services, or for those who enter residences and other businesses.”

The release also stated more measures may be brought in at some city workplaces after assessments by department directors and health and safety staff.

Engagement forums already scheduled as virtual events will proceed as planned. In-person meetings, forums and open houses are expected to resume over the course of the year. The city noted it will strive to provide options to make participants feel safe and comfortable, including allowing virtual input from people who prefer not to participate in person.

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Anyone planning to visit a city facility before July 11 is advised that they must still abide by current restrictions, including wearing a mask.

Transit

Effective July 11, all buses will operate at full standing capacity, with no more mandate for customers or staff to wear masks. Physical distancing will no longer be promoted at bus shelters or on buses. Vinyl barriers installed for drivers will still be available. While their use will be encouraged, it will not be mandatory. Enhanced cleaning of buses will continue every night.

City Hall

Service counters in the front lobby will continue to be open for business, but will keep the plexiglass shields installed during the pandemic. Some services previously available on other floors of the building may be moved to the lobby by Sept. 1. The release stated that access to other areas of the building, including the cafeteria on the fourth floor, “will be reviewed,” but provided no further timeline.

The release reaffirmed a previous announcement that in-person city council meetings are also expected to resume in September.

Leisure Centres and programs

Drop-in program capacity will increase starting Sunday, with city leisure centres and seasonal facilities gearing up to increase their program offerings in the fall. People are urged to watch for the city’s leisure guide on Aug. 6 for more details, or check the city’s website or social media channels.

The city will share more specific information with people registered for swimming lessons and other summer programs over the next week.

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Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo

The one-way path put in place during the pandemic will be removed and most areas of the zoo will be open without any restrictions

The Meerkat display is now open; however, the Children’s Zoo will remain closed for the time being. The Affinity Learning Centre is closed for construction.

Pathways and crosswalks

Pedestrian bridges, overpasses, underpasses, walkways and tunnels will return to two-way traffic. Temporary signage put in place indicating these were one-way only will be removed in the next few weeks, as will placards put on crosswalks indicating people don’t need to push the button to get a walk signal.

Landfill, recycling

People celebrating the end of restrictions by ditching masks, barriers and other COVID-related paraphernalia are advised to keep this type of waste out of blue recycling bins. The city release noted that while material used in plastic or acrylic barriers is classed as a number seven plastic, there’s no market for it, so it isn’t accepted for recycling. The same applies to flexible plastic sheets or screens.

Items placed outside carts or bins won’t be picked up, and could net fines starting at $500 for illegal dumping. The city release noted that Prairie Harm Reduction and International Women of Saskatoon accept donations of plexiglass barriers.

Bylaw court and impound lot

The city’s bylaw docket court will re-open July 14. People with matters that were adjourned due to pandemic restrictions are advised to check for their new court dates.

The vehicle impound lot will resume normal operating hours as of July 11.

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

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