The province will be mandating masks in some of Saskatchewan’s major cities after reporting 81 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

“We all need to take our personal responsibility very seriously,” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said on Tuesday. “I don’t like wearing a mask more than anyone else, but I’m going to do it to keep those around me and those that I care about safe.”

Starting on Nov. 6, masks will be required in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert when people are in indoor public spaces.  

“I know that after eight months of this it’s easy to think that ‘I’m fine, I haven’t gotten COVID yet and even if I do I’ll probably get better quickly,’” Moe said. “That may be true in many of our cases, but it may not be true for the person that you give it to: your mom or your dad, or grandparents or a friend.”

The public health order will be in place for 28 days, then subject to review by the chief medical health officer.

“We will continue to review the need for it to continue, for it to expand or other changes as required,” Dr. Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, said.

"We’ve had a good eight, nine months,” Shahab said. “I think we do now tap on the brakes a bit as we get into the winter, we are starting to see the upward trend that the rest of Canada has been seeing.”

Public health will be able to enforce the rules though they will work to educate people first. It will encourage all people, businesses and organizations to abide by the masking order.

Mask use is still recommended for all other communities in the province.

Moe urged Saskatchewan people to continue good practices including physical distancing and hygiene.

“We must also remember that this is a layer of protection, this is not the be-all end-all, and doesn’t in any way cure COVID. It’s a layer of protection for us in addition to the physical distancing and everything else that we are doing to try to stop the spread of COVID in our communities,” Moe said.

As well, all residents are to continue to reduce their close contacts and return to safe outings, including having one family member do grocery shopping and run errands, limit errands to once per week, and that working from home is supported.

“None of these measures by themselves are gong to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but all of them together will,” Moe said.

Saskatchewan schools in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert will not be affected by the mandatory mask order.

“Schools specifically are not mentioned in the order because they have their own layers of protection including the required mask use,” Shahab said.

INDOOR GATHERING SIZES REDUCED

The province is reducing the number of people that can gather in private and home settings.

Starting Nov. 6, a maximum of 10 people will be allowed to gather in private settings. Previously, 15 people could gather.

The number includes household members who ordinarily reside in a dwelling.

These rules apply to weddings, religious gatherings and funerals that take place in a private dwelling and any outbuildings, like a garage.

The 10 person limit does not apply to households with more than 10 family members living in the same residence, the province said.

Gatherings with more than 10 people must be hosted in a public venue, like a restaurant or banquet hall. These gatherings would have to apply to guidelines set out by that location.

Establishments and other organizations are required to follow seating and physical distancing guidelines set out in the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan at www.saskatchewan.ca/re-open.