Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty has postponed his annual New Year’s celebration at Government House to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, a change that affects the schedule of regular attendees.
“The News Year’s levée is a fun way for the public to meet the Queen’s Representative on New Years Day and start the New Year off in a nice way,” said attendee Donna Boyle. “Guests who attend can shake hands with the Lieutenant Governor and his wife, and take a photo with them.”
Boyle has attended the event for the last three years. She enjoys seeing the beautifully decorated Government House, socializing with the community in the main ballroom and enjoying the festive themed catering and refreshments. She understands why the event is cancelled this year because many people gather inside the building, making it dangerous for the potential spread of the virus.
At the event there is also a variety of musicians invited to perform for guest entertainment — including music to greet people as they come through the door, a pianist playing Christmas carols and a harpist. Beautiful wreaths and garlands are on display and Disney princesses have also made appearances throughout the years to honour the royal theme, which is something the children really enjoy.
The Lt.-Gov. decided to not cancel the event completely, but postpone it in hopes the COVID-19 numbers in the province will improve.
“We had a safe event planned and approved by Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), but we decided it was a wiser decision to postpone the event with the rise of case numbers,” said Carolyn Speirs, communications manager at the Lt.-Gov Office.
“People’s safety is our main concern right now.”
Speirs hopes the event will be able to occur this coming spring, but cannot guarantee that will happen considering the situation with COVID-19 is unknown. Speirs said the event would likely still honour all the safety measures they had planned before the event was postponed.
Guests would be required to wear masks, and individuals would be screened as they come through the door. Small groups or a family would arrive together, be seated at their own table and be asked to stay socially distanced from others. Guests would still get the chance to meet Mirasty and his wife, but at a six-feet distance.
The celebration usually hosts around 1,000 people but is open to the public. The event started in 1884 and continued until the early 1970s. In 1985 the event was revitalized and has been held consecutively for the past 35 years.
“In the meantime however, this Christmas season we encourage people to visit the Government House through their virtual tour,” said Speirs, alluding to www.governmenthousesk.ca.