Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow

WATCH: Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow.

The Saskatchewan government has declared a state of emergency as concerns grow over COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

With the declaration, the province now has more power to bring in measures to protect the public.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are now banned in the province.

Seating at restaurants, bars and event centres is limited to 50 per cent of capacity, or 50 people, whichever is less.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are exempt.

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All licensed restaurants and taverns in the province are permitted to sell off-sale indefinitely under SLGA regulations.

Gyms, fitness centres, casinos and bingo halls have been ordered closed until further notice.

The province is urging everyone to limit any non-essential travel out of the province with the exception of people living in border communities who cross provincial boundaries for work purposes.

The new measures come as the province announced eight new presumptive COVID-19 cases.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is discontinuing all non-urgent and elective surgeries, procedures and diagnostics as of March 23.

Also starting Monday, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will discontinue all non-urgent and elective surgeries, procedures and diagnostics.

The SHA also announced visitor restrictions at all health facilities in the province.

Visitors are not allowed at any SHA-operated hospitals, clinics, community and continuing care facilities except for compassionate reasons.

“Compassionate reasons may include immediate family during end-of-life care, family of patients prior to a major surgery or visitors aiding in clinical care,” the authority said in a statement.

The restrictions are in place until further notice.

Officials said parents with children in daycare should be prepared for further restrictions, but did not elaborate.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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