Saskatchewan closes businesses, further restricts gatherings in face of COVID-19

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the government is shutting down many retailers and further restricting how many people may gather at one time in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

He said businesses ranging from clothing stores and flower shops to those selling vaping supplies and sporting goods won't be allowed to serve customers face to face.

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Businesses can go online or offer pickup and delivery services.

The government is also restricting public and private gatherings to no more than 10 people — down from 25.

The province announced Wednesday 14 new cases of the novel coronavirus, for a confirmed total of 86. Public health officials said about 6,200 tests have been done.

"We've done the second highest per capita level of testing in the nation," Moe told a news conference.

"The only province that has done more testing per capita is the province of Alberta and that may speak to the counts that we have, the positive IDs that we have."

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said four patients with COVID-19 have required hospitalization, with two in intensive care.

"Some of these hospitalizations are due to underlying medical conditions, with COVID-19 as a diagnosis made either before hospitalization or during hospitalization," Shahab said.

Moe said liquor stores can continue operating for now, partly out of concern for people who could go into withdrawal.

"This is no time to add to any of our detox capacity," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020

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