Canada Mandryk: Moe's disappointing announcement comes closer to a solution

22:10  26 november  2020
22:10  26 november  2020 Source:   leaderpost.com

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  Mandryk: Task force of health, business leaders needed in COVID fight Saskatchewan registered almost 500 COVID-19 cases on the weekend . It took 54 days for the province to reach that number of total cases after the first case was announced on March 13. The record 308 new cases on Saturday (followed by another 181 on Sunday) came a day after the Saskatchewan Party government unveiled a much-maligned coronavirus spread reduction strategy quickly mocked for leaving bars open until 11 p.m., failing to address casinos, concerts, bingo halls and churches that have become spreaders and for not extending mandatory mask-wearing orders to communities of fewer than 5,000 people.

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a group of hockey players on the field: Youth sports — like this Atom Tier 1 hockey game in Regina from a few years ago — will not be happening until late December because of COVID-19 restrictions. © Provided by Leader Post Youth sports — like this Atom Tier 1 hockey game in Regina from a few years ago — will not be happening until late December because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier Scott Moe disappointed a lot of people Wednesday.

His latest and fourth attempt to implement effective rules to curb Saskatchewan’s skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers comes as a clear disappointment to those in the medical community and elsewhere who sincerely see little other alternative in the face of exponential case growth. .

Of course, there are those who wouldn’t have been happy with anything Moe and his Saskatchewan Party government did. Nobody is going to be more disappointed than those yearning to be more disappointed than anyone else.

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  Mandryk: Moe makes dangerous COVID-19 bet that might not pay off Of the many bizarre wagers Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe made Tuesday while outlining the latest measures to stop the COVID-19 spread , none were more risky than one. More people will die, Moe said. Yet also during a news conference, he stressed we can’t afford to shut down the economy when 15,000 of the initial 70,000 jobs the province lost in the March shutdown haven’t returned. Credit Moe for framing it as an odds-on calculation. It was a bold pronouncement of where he stands.

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Wednesday’s announcement will disappoint the business community that faces 50-per-cent capacity limits in large stores and more severe limits on attendance in bars, restaurants (four per table), bingo halls and casinos (30 people).

And it surely will have disappointed a lot of of everyday folk — many among them the 60.7 per cent that voted for the Saskatchewan Party on Oct. 26.

Limiting churches to 30 people until Dec. 17 — raising the the prospects of no Christmas Eve masses if the numbers don’t go down in the next month — will be disappointing.

And shutting down hockey in a Saskatchewan winter quickly moves from disappointing to maddening. (The Nipawin Hawks were quick to tweet out: “ Coach (Doug) Johnson is taking the Hawks to the bar and the casinos tonight and in the future ’cause the government shut down hockey.”)

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But if there’s one similarity between being a columnist and politics, it’s that if you’re usually doing your job right, you end up disappointing either side equally at various times. At least in governance, it’s not quite that simple.

You can’t give Moe all that much credit for finally getting it right when: (a) this is a fourth kick at the can in a situation that needed an immediate response, and; (b) government (even by its own standards of resisting a shutdown or even a “circuit breaker”) may still not have got it right.

On the latter point, Wednesday’s announcement was still still driven by the overarching notion that fighting COVID-19 is a personal responsibility rather than one requiring government leadership through policing, handing out fines and prosecuting that are going to be unpopular. Again, it shouldn’t be up to a 16-year-old sales clerks to ensure people wear masks. Store managers need to be motived by the legitimate threat of shutdowns to take on belligerent customers and enforce customer limits.

Opinion: Politics still driving COVID-19 response

  Opinion: Politics still driving COVID-19 response Announcing a few restrictions, Saskatchewan’s health minister, Paul Merriman, claimed he was taking a “measured approach.” It sounded more like “half measures.” Requiring masks for only 65 per cent left us all vulnerable. Hasn’t the government been carefully “measuring” Saskatchewan’s rate of active cases surpassing Ontario and B.C.? Being halfway to Manitoba’s 13 per cent positivity? Saskatoon’s ICUs already being stretched? All the warning signs of another killer spread in long term care? After mounting pressure, the province has seen some light, requiring masks in indoor public places across Saskatchewan.

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Moreover, Moe didn’t do us any favours with his shots at Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of acquiring a vaccine. Even if Trudeau has screwed this up (and he surely has), Moe needs to act like he’s more than the provincial director of the Conservative Party of Canada. It detracts from bringing Saskatchewan together on a viable plan to to fight COVID-19.

That said, what Moe needed to do most Wednesday was to offer policies with solid reasons for implementing them.

Those that thought (and/or hoped) Moe was simply going to repeat Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s meandering talking points about government “intuition” and the need for personal responsibility will likely be disappointed that Moe actually provided statistically based information for doing what the government is doing.

For example, limiting capacity to stores with more than 20,000 square feet avoids the failings of lockdowns in Manitoba and Toronto where it actually initially benefited chains and big box stores allowed to stay open and compete.

Similarly, closing down kids’ hockey might seem inherently unfair to parents, but, statistically speaking, it’s justified.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab later clarified Wednesday that 10 of 25 spreader events (meaning, resulting in two cases or more) in October and November were traced back to kids’ hockey and/or kid-parent, post-hockey events.

In fact, these hockey-related outbreaks account for a sizeable number of “multiple-case outbreaks” in schools — 78 of 186 cases in schools that have involved more than one student.

No, Moe likely didn’t get it perfect Wednesday.

But by disappointing more people, he may disappoint fewer in the long run.

Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix.

'Additional measures:' Saskatchewan suspends team sports, lowers venue limits .
REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is suspending team sports for the next three weeks and slashing capacity limits for public venues to 30 people in its latest attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Premier Scott Moe announced the new health measures Wednesday by video from his home in Shellbrook, Sask., where he was isolating after eating at a restaurant where someone infectious had been. Moe, who has yet to receive his test results, acknowledged that restrictions brought in in recent weeks — including a provincewide mask mandate and a five-person restriction on home-based gatherings — haven't been enough to slow the illness or reduce hospital admissions.

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