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Manitoba Announces Broad New Public Health Measures

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Legislature Crop

Starting on Wednesday, Manitobans are headed back into broad lockdowns. Although the province had strengthened its public health orders one week ago, recent case counts and modelling shows that the province is well on its way to peaks either as high or higher than those seen during the second wave.

Among the points mentioned by Dr. Brent Roussin today is the fact that the average age of people in the ICU is now 56, a substantial drop from the second wave and an indication that many younger people are ended up in hospital due to variants of concern. He also pointed out that more than 700 new cases have been reported since last Friday, and that hospitalizations are up 50 percent from last week.

“Despite our best collective efforts and having some of the strictest public health orders in the country, Manitoba’s case numbers continue to rise, which threatens the ability of our healthcare system to care for those in need,” says Premier Brian Pallister. “We are at a critical point in the third wave—it is a race between the variants and vaccines, and right now the variants are winning. We need a few weeks in order to allow our accelerated vaccine efforts to catch up and change the course of that race. Today, we are asking Manitobans to stay close to home, significantly limit your close contacts and get your vaccine as soon as you are eligible.”

The new public health orders, which will remain in force for four weeks, are wide-ranging:

  • no visitors will be allowed to private households either indoors or outdoors with certain exceptions including allowing one visitor for people who live alone.
  • no indoor gatherings will be permitted and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed in public outdoor spaces only.
  • faith-based gatherings will be limited to 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people, whichever is lower, with indoor mask use required at all times.
  • patio dining will be restricted to groups of four people only with no household restrictions.
  • food courts in malls and shopping centres will be required to close.
  • gyms and fitness centres continue to be limited to 25 percent capacity, but individuals, patrons, and staff will be required to maintain physical distancing of three metres (nine feet) from others.
  • spectators at outdoor sports and recreation facilities will be limited to one parent/caregiver spectator per youth participant, if physical distancing of two m (six feet) is maintained.
  • dance, theatre, and music schools will continue to be limited to 25 percent capacity, but the new orders will limit the maximum number of people on site to 10 with one parent/caregiver spectator per youth participant, if physical distancing of two metres (six feet) is maintained.
  • personal service business will be able to continue to operate at 50 percent capacity, but appointments will be required.
  • day camps will be permitted to have up to 10 children indoors and outdoors.
  • retail stores must be limited to 25 per cent of the capacity of the store or up to 250 patrons, whichever is lower, and malls will be limited to 25 per cent of the facility’s capacity.

Pallister also announced today that enforcement measures are being stepped up to ensure that these new rules are followed. Check-ins will be used to make sure that people who have been told to self-isolate do so, and some surveillance will take place in malls and other retail outlets.

“Public health orders are a foundation for action, but we need all Manitobans to do a little bit more and take personal responsibility for following the orders, staying home as much as possible, reducing the number of contacts we have and wearing masks when we are around others from outside our household,” says Dr. Brent Roussin. “I am also calling on business and organizational leaders to help ensure people are staying apart in their facilities, staying home if they are sick and self-isolating if they are a close contact to a case.”

Both Roussin and Pallister reiterated the need for all Manitobans to get a vaccination as soon as one is available. They remind us that the best vaccine is the first one that becomes available to you.

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