Saskatchewan officials lifted all public health restrictions related to COVID-19 on Sunday at 12:01 a.m.
That means there is no size limit on private and public outdoor gatherings.
In the three weeks prior to July 11, indoor private gatherings were limited to 15 people and outdoor private gatherings were limited to 150.
Terri Peterson, the counselling team practice leader at University of Saskatchewan’s Student Wellness Centre, said it’s important for people to take care of themselves as they move forward into more social connections.
“This experience is novel to everyone. That means that it’s going to take some energy and we’re going to respond to it like anything novel, with a bit of activation or anxiety,” Peterson told Global News.
Because of this, Peterson said it is important for people to support themselves.
“Some people over the last 17 months have felt kind of overwhelmed and overstimulated and overworked, and some people have felt the opposite. Everyone’s response will probably be different depending on their context, their experience, their nervous system,” she said.
Peterson said it is important for employers, parents and other support people to check in with people and see what they need.
As people start gathering again, Peterson added it is important to pay attention to the vulnerable community and keep in mind that those under 12 have yet to be vaccinated against the virus.
With large events permitted to take place again, everyone will be moving at their own pace.
“Some people might have to work to slow their roll and some people might have to work to kind of stretch themselves and get back out into those social experiences,” Peterson said.
“Some of us are starved for that connection and community.”
Peterson suggested not only checking in with yourself but with the people around you about their pace, comfort level and temperament.
“Change, particularly change that we haven’t decided upon, that has been imposed on us, is going to have an impact on us,” she said.
“I really think if people can be really thoughtful and reflective and figure out what their pace is and what they’re comfortable with and what they want in their lives or in their routine with this change, then that’s going to help people be more adaptive, resilient, and maybe help people to make other changes in their life.”
Peterson added that some individuals will come out of this more “weathered by the storm” of the pandemic.
Some people may have even found more resources for their mental health and ways to cope while isolated at home.
As for those who may need more help with their mental health, Peterson suggested seeking out counselling or therapy.
She has also heard of people who are going to keep mindfulness activities in their routine that they started in the pandemic, such as a daily walk.
Lifting of restrictions leads to celebration
One Saskatoon man kicked off the end of restrictions with a backyard party for friends and family.
Ken Gryschuk called the event hosted in his backyard the “We Kicked COVID party.”
Gryschuk even booked entertainment for the special occasion — Celtic band Back of the Bus performed for guests.
About 30 people showed up to soak up the good weather and music.
“Musicians haven’t had a very good year, they haven’t had any gigs, so we thought we’d get a local band together and Celtic music is usually about alcohol, so let’s have a party,” Gryschuk said.
Gryschuk booked the band to perform for friends last fall when gatherings were permitted with capacity limits in place and had promised they would have them back for the summer.
Live music community optimistic for recovery as Saskatchewan reopens
“It would be great if people around Saskatchewan had local musicians do gigs in their yards and get them back working again,” he said.
As for restrictions lifting, Gryschuk said it’s time for people to get back to their “abnormal, whatever that happens to be.”
“Freedom feels darn good.”
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