In a three-tier approach, the Saskatchewan government is using first-dose vaccination benchmarks to gradually lift restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Saskatchewan calls the plan “myopic” and “simple”.

“It’s really not about the details of what’s going on in certain regions or with certain variants,” Kyle Anderson told Global News.

“Right now it’s really just about one thing (first dose vaccinations) that isn’t even the best. We should look at the second vaccination. “

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Saskatchewan sets a roadmap for reopening after a pandemic

Anderson estimates that only three or four percent of the people in Saskatchewan will be fully vaccinated by the time the reopening plans become a reality. In contrast, he said at least half of the population in the UK and Israel – two countries that are also about to reopen – have received their second dose.

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“The vaccine doesn’t work for everyone after the first dose, especially variants,” said Anderson.

“If we give this false hope – once we get to 70 percent everything will be fine – it is really naive of us.”

According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority, two-thirds of the province’s zones are in the red, which means that COVID-19 transmission in those areas is most likely not being controlled.

As of Tuesday, there were 75 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in Regina. 23 of them were in the intensive care unit. Saskatoon had 68 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Fourteen of them were in intensive care.

Anderson said it appears Regina’s hospital stays and ICU admissions are decreasing while saskatoons are trending. He said there needs to be an emphasis on controlling the third wave across the province, stressing that the reopening plan should not be one step ahead of the current situation.

“We just shouldn’t have a plan that is three steps ahead until we have taken the first step,” he said.

“Our plan should always be something that we change and adapt and learn from other jurisdictions.”

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Demand for some vaccines is high in Saskatchewan and voter turnout is low in other clinics

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Anderson said the provincial government needs to take a “holistic” approach to its reopening plan that would look “not just at our COVID numbers, but at the whole situation around us.”

In a statement, health critic Vicki Mowat said: “It is worrying that only vaccination counts appear to be used. Vaccination numbers are important, but they don’t tell the full story. “

“With Alberta imposing more restrictions today, we need to closely monitor the number of cases, test positivity, hospitalizations and other public health indicators to drive our progress.”

Premier Scott Moe told reporters that Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and other health officials are tracking the COVID situation outside of vaccinations, including hospital numbers. If the pressure on acute care increases, the reopening process can be interrupted.

However, Moe stands behind the vaccination benchmarks.

“As our vaccination levels continue to rise, it is expected that our severe COVID results will continue to decline over this period,” Moe said.

Welcome messages for chambers of commerce

As companies continue to struggle to stay afloat amid COVID-19 restrictions that limit capacity and services, the reopening plan acts as a shining light at the end of a dark tunnel.

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“We’re excited,” said Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

“We are pleased that this plan has not only been published, but we also have a vision for the summer.”

In step one of the reopening plan, which could take place as soon as the end of May, restaurants and bars can be opened with up to six people at one table. Group fitness activities can also be resumed. By the second step, which is planned for the end of June, capacity in retail stores will increase. The measured rollout will help companies plan a smooth reopening, according to McLellan.

“Companies are not like a light switch. You can’t turn them on and off. You have to schedule people in, they have to do the marketing, ”said McLellan.

“This plan gives us, if you will, a dimmer switch. It’s a phased process to open again. “

Elderly Saskatchewan residents will receive the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine sooner than 16 weeks

Elderly Saskatchewan residents will receive the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine sooner than 16 weeks

John Hopkins, CEO of Regina and District Chamber of Commerce, is pleased with the step-by-step approach. He said it gives business owners the ability to monitor where the reopening stages are.

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“It’s really about people getting vaccinated and we can track and see where we are and say, ‘OK, by that date I should be able to increase my seating capacity” or whatever “so Hopkins said.

“The other side of the coin is that all of this is left to the companies, the residents and us to actually achieve these goals.”

Not all businesses will recover when things reopen, according to Hopkins. Success will vary from sector to sector, with the hospitality and accommodation sectors possibly taking the longest to recover, he said.

“It’s not like we’re reaching a specific date and the hotels will be full. That won’t happen, ”he said.

“The good thing is that it’s not a recession. It’s not a depression. Once we’re on the other side of the virus, it should be pretty quick. “

According to McLellan, companies will have to keep adjusting even as things return to normal.

He said he had heard of some restaurants that had a better year of sales during the pandemic than in previous years, due to adjustments and “finding their niche.”

However, McLellan said there will be companies who cannot overcome the damage caused by COVID-19, and some will struggle with the effects in the months and years to come.

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“One of the challenges, financially, is that they can’t get out of the hole that COVID put them into,” McLellan said.

“There’s also the wear and tear of business and the way that business has changed.”

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