Phase two of the Government of Saskatchewan’s reopening strategy is now in effect.
Retail businesses and malls are now able to open again, meaning that we can return to our favourite stores and shop without using a computer, although it won’t be business as usual within those businesses.
Farmers markets will be able to open for the season as well, which is good news for those who enjoy markets like the one offered in Estevan.
Hairstylists, barber shops, massage therapists and other services will also open again, meaning that those who are starting to get a little scruffy, or who are a little tense, can book an appointment.
Campgrounds will be open again June 1.
We have to be smart enough to know that going and shopping for new clothes, furniture or jewelry, or visiting a market, or getting a new hairdo, won’t be as simple as it was 2 1/2 months ago. There will be new procedures to be followed.
Still, it’s encouraging that this latest rounds of businesses are open. They won’t be up to full speed for a while, but it gets more people working again and it creates revenue streams for businesses and it gives us another reason to go out.
We saw with phase 1, which included non-essential medical services, that their operations have changed. Some of those businesses that could open again haven’t done so yet.
Those who went golfing on or after May 15 certainly noticed the differences in the game. Thankfully the government has allowed courses to open again, and it has eased up some restrictions, while still ensuring that social distancing is followed as much as possible.
We have been able to enjoy golfing, going to our favourite stores and getting our hair cut again because we have done our part to prevent the spread of pandemic. For the most part, Saskatchewan residents have followed the regulations imposed by the provincial government.
You can’t always maintain two metres of distance, but we’ve done the best we’ve can.
At the same time, now that we’re into phase two, we can’t become complacent.
We saw in the far north what happens when people don’t do the right thing. It’s hard to say whether the outbreak in La Loche and other northern communities was due to stupidity, irresponsibility or a lapse in judgement, but the bottom line is it happened, people have become sick and died, and that region continues to deal with the consequences.
As of last Friday, the far north had 55 more cases than the Saskatoon area, despite having a fraction of the population.
A surge in cases can happen anywhere if we aren’t smart.
This does not mean we should shut ourselves in and not use these services now that they’re open again. We just have to follow the new rules and listen to the instructions of staff.
As of press time, we don’t know yet when Phase 3 will take effect, which would increase the size of public and private gatherings to 15, and allow for personal services, restaurants, gyms, fitness facilities and childcare facilities to open again. Don’t expect it to happen before early June. If the number of new cases for COVID-19 continues to drop, it might be sooner rather than later. If we experience a surge, especially in non-isolated areas, Phase 3 will be delayed.
Once restaurants and gyms and other businesses are open again, it will be another boost to the economy and to our morale. When they do open, we’ll still have to follow guidelines.
Some conspiracy theorists out there will look at our numbers and say that it’s proof that this pandemic was overblown and that we over-reacted to what was happening elsewhere. They’ll say we’re being too cautious, and we could return to normal, or close to normal, and not have a surge in cases. The reality is that we have the lower caseloads in the south, and in much of Saskatchewan, because we did the right thing and followed the rules.
We’ve had 15 cases of COVID-19 in southern Saskatchewan. None of them are active. Our last cases were reported April 4.
Let’s be vigilant and keep it that way.