To protect the health and safety of residents, customers and employees, beginning September 1 masks are required when traveling on Saskatoon Transit and when accessing indoor City-operated facilities and services. City Council approved the action at its meeting Monday, August 30 as an added safety measure to address the increasing spread of COVID-19 in our community.
“Masks make a difference,” says Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Director, Saskatoon’s Emergency Management Organization. “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. 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.”
Given the current situation of COVID-19 and prevalence of the Delta variant in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Health Authority recommends masking indoors in public places, regardless of vaccination status. By wearing a mask indoors, we can continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community and protect the health of our family, friends and neighbours.
“Fall is a time of increased bus ridership and a popular time for participating in programs and activities in our leisure facilities,” says Goulden-McLeod. “We’ve looked at how we can safely meet the demand for our programs and services. Requiring the use of masks is an important step to protect the health and safety of our customers and staff.”
The City will focus on educating and informing the public about the required use of masks on Saskatoon Transit and in City-operated facilities as an added safety precaution, rather than enforcement.
An additional report was shared for the information of City Council to provide an overview of the enhanced health and safety measures being reintroduced for City staff. With the lifting of the Government of Saskatchewan Public Health Orders and the rapid and uncontrolled rise of COVID-19 cases in the Saskatoon region, the City has determined that it must take a more assertive approach to staff safety than it has in the past.
The new approach includes the introduction of regular mandatory COVID-19 rapid tests for all City staff who report to the workplace. Scheduled to start mid-September, mandatory testing of staff regardless of their vaccination status will provide a greater level of safety in the workplace.
“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 says. “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.”
City Council supported the mandatory testing for City staff and added that they would like Administration to explore the possibility of adjustments for fully vaccinated staff.
Also at its August 30 meeting, City Council requested that Administration explore and report back on the following items in the coming weeks:
- The potential implementation of vaccine requirements for City staff only, in consultation with local health authorities; and
- Following the Government of Saskatchewan’s update on August 30, 2021 that “businesses, municipalities, venue and event organizers may request proof of vaccination to host and attend events or access their services,” to provide Council with advice on how this could apply to civic events, events in civic facilities and other relevant gatherings.
Any further impacts to City programs and services this fall resulting from enhanced health and safety measures will be shared with residents on the City’s website and social media channels.