The Sask. Government is implementing a province-wide mask mandate effective Thursday.

In new COVID-19 restrictions announced Tuesday, visitation at all long-term care and personal homes will be suspended, unless for compassionate reasons.

“There’s one thing worse than not allowing visitors into our long-term care centers. And that is allowing COVID into our long-term care centers. We know the outcome of that can be deadly and it can be devastating,” said Premier Scott Moe.

COVID-19 is present 20 long-term and assisted care living facilities.

Indoor private gatherings will be reduced from ten people to five. If your immediate family is over five people, no additional visitors are allowed.

However, gatherings of any size outside your immediate family are strongly advised against. Outdoor private gatherings remain at 30 people maximum and only if physical distancing of two metres can be maintained at all times.

“We have too many new cases. We have too many in hospital. And we have too many in intensive care. And we need to do what we can to get these numbers down,” Moe said.

“Some are going to get sick. Some are going to end up in hospital as we have many in there today. Some are going to die. And that’s why we need to slow the spread of this virus in our communities. And that’s why we’re taking these steps today. This is not a lockdown. This is a slowdown, a significant one-month slowdown.”

The province encourages people who can work from home to so.

The medical community is asking for a temporary lockdown. Yet Moe balked at the suggestion stating you do not need to sacrifice public health or the economy to flatten the curve, but a mix of restrictions which can reduce transmission.

Moe said the first lockdown has resulted in a net loss of 15,000 jobs. Which has affected families and their mental health and community well being.

He said its estimated that a further tens of thousands of jobs may be lost if a second lockdown is taken.

Although Moe calls this a slow down, he is not ruling out another lockdown, but does not believe that one is needed.

“Let’s slow down the amount of movement. Let’s slow down and reduce our number of contacts. And that’s look for reasons to possibly stay home instead of reasons to go out,” said Moe. “This one month slow down is how we will slow the spread of this virus so that hopefully, we can begin to relax some of these decisions and time for the Christmas and holiday season.”

“The lack of action today has put Saskatchewan at higher risk of more illness, more deaths, and longer-term economic damage. We need concrete action to contain the second wave and prevent a long-term shutdown of our economy. The Premier is either unwilling or unable to provide the leadership required to achieve that goal,” explained NDP Health Critic Vikki Mowat.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Saqib Shahab is encouraging people to adopt the behaviours practiced in March and the spring, as this will be the only way to reduce transmission.

He expressed that with the surge in new cases, contact tracing is becoming quite difficult. The Ministry of Health said it will be reviewing guidelines on the hospitality industry, places of worship and organized athletics. Officials said they would be consulting with affected groups about how they mitigate the risk of transmission in their sectors.

The new restrictions come as the province reports 910 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday. These measures will be in place until December 17.