“It’s now clear, at least in this Omicron wave of the pandemic, that lockdown policies can cause harm in our communities, often with little or virtually no benefit,” Moe said during a press conference on Jan. 12.
“They cause economic harm by taking away jobs and removing family livelihoods. They cause psychological harm by taking away social contact, most particularly for our youth, and they’re an infringement on the rights and freedoms that we have come to enjoy and value as Canadians.”
The Omicron variant, which is highly contagious but presents milder symptoms compared to earlier strains of COVID-19, does not justify imposing additional restrictions, the premier had said previously, in a video posted on Twitter on Dec. 23.
In the press conference on Jan. 12, Moe reiterated his point, arguing that the Omicron variant will still spread even with severe lockdowns, as has been seen in other provinces thus far.
He added lockdowns should be used “only when necessary and if they can clearly be shown they are being effective and they are working.”
“We’re not seeing that as being the case today,” he said.
Public health orders in Saskatchewan, which were to expire at the end of the month, were extended on Jan. 12 to the end of February. The measures include mandatory masking in all indoor public spaces, mandatory self-isolation for a positive COVID-19 test, and proof of vaccination or negative test to enter some venues and businesses.
Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction in Canada without restrictions on gathering sizes.
Moe said there are many ways people can protect themselves.
“What we can do is get our booster shot when eligible, use rapid tests that are widely available in Saskatchewan and continue to wear your mask when needed to protect yourself and those around you,” he wrote on Twitter on Jan. 12.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report