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Looking back six months after that state of emergency was declared, Shahab feels the measures have worked.

“The short answer is, I think we have done quite well in Saskatchewan, and then Canada as a whole has also done well,” said Shahab in a recent interview.

Although the pandemic is not over, Shahab feels the province is well positioned to adjust to its new normal.

But back in March there were so many unknowns. Because COVID-19 was a novel coronavirus, Shahab said there was uncertainty about how the situation would play out.

REGINA, SASK : March 19, 2020 -- A sign indicates the stoppage of church services during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Knox Metropolitan United Church in Regina, Saskatchewan on Mar. 19, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post
A sign indicates the stoppage of church services during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Knox Metropolitan United Church in Regina, Saskatchewan on Mar. 19, 2020. BRANDON HARDER/ Regina Leader-Post Photo by BRANDON HARDER /Regina Leader-Post

The lockdown was painful for businesses in the province, but Shahab said it was necessary to act quickly to protect the health care system, especially long-term care facilities with residents who are especially vulnerable. The focus had to be on preventing a surge of cases.

Within four to six weeks, Shahab said it began to be clear the lockdown measures were having the desired effect.

“I think that is something that we can all be quite proud of, but obviously we had to see this happen in this way to be so comfortable with it,” said Shahab.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In May, a serious outbreak began spreading in the province’s north. The epicentre was the community of La Loche. In the south, outbreaks led to surges at multiple Hutterite colonies.

While concerns were raised about the outbreaks, the government refused to back down from its reopening plan. The five-phase plan began on May 4, and was delayed in northern regions where cases were surging.

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