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Province Takes Next Step Towards Reopening

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Dr. Brent Roussin has announced new public health orders, to take effect Saturday, July 17.

Beginning on Saturday, July 17, Manitobans will have expanded freedoms and opportunities in the next phase of the province’s reopening strategy.

This next phase is made possible by Manitoba having reached its latest vaccination goal—with 75 percent of the population having received at least one dose, and 50 percent having received a second dose.

Most facilities may now open to 50 percent capacity, allowing more people to gather indoors and outdoors, shop, dine out, and visit cultural and recreational facilities.

Fully immunized Manitobans are subject to further benefits.

“Vaccines are the safest and quickest way out of this pandemic. The sooner all eligible Manitobans get fully vaccinated, the sooner we can all get our lives back,” says Premier Brian Pallister. “Thanks to the incredible efforts of Manitoba’s vaccine team and Manitobans’ willingness to roll up their sleeves—not once, but twice—we are able to move forward earlier than anticipated with fewer restrictions on our economy and our communities.”

Here are the details of the latest public health orders:

• indoor gatherings at private residences are permitted to a maximum of five people, plus the household members.
• indoor gatherings in public spaces are permitted to a maximum of 25 people.
• outdoor gatherings on private property increase to a maximum of 25 people.
• public outdoor gatherings increase to a maximum of 150 people.
• retail businesses increase to 50 percent capacity or 500 people, whichever is lower.
• restaurants, licensed premises and food court capacities expand to 50 percent capacity: outdoor maximum table size remains at eight people, patrons may only sit together indoors if they are from the same household or if all patrons 12 years of age or older are fully immunized (unvaccinated children under 12 may dine with fully vaccinated members of their household in this case), opening hours extend to midnight, the requirement to purchase food when ordering alcohol no longer applies, and VLTs may be operate with all other restaurant/bar rules applying (two-metre distance, only households or fully vaccinated people seated together).
• personal services (haircuts and styling, nail salons, estheticians, and massage) continue at 50 percent capacity; however, appointments are no longer required.
• dance, theatre, and music school capacities increase to 50 percent capacity to a maximum of 25 people per group.
• indoor sporting facilities may host groups up to a maximum of 25 people. Interaction between groups and tournaments are not permitted.
• day camp capacity increases to groups of 25. Joint activities between groups and overnight camps are prohibited.
• outdoor recreation including games and practices may take place to maximum group size of 50 people. Spectators are permitted and do not count towards this capacity limit. Tournaments are not permitted.
• gym and fitness centre capacities expand to 50 percent capacity. Masks and increased physical distancing (three metres) are still required.
• outdoor weddings and funerals may include up to 150 participants in addition to photographers and officiants. Indoor weddings or funerals increase to 25 people in addition to photographers and officiants.
• libraries may open to 50 percent capacity to a maximum of 150 people, whichever is lower.
• faith-based and cultural gatherings (pow wows, sun dances) may expand to 50 percent capacity or 150 people indoors, whichever is lower. Masks and physical distancing between households is still required. If the facility design allows, the capacity limits may be applied to different physical spaces within the venue. Outdoor faith-based and cultural gatherings permitted up to 150 people and drive-in services continue to be permitted without restriction.

In addition to these changes to the public health orders, certain benefits are being conferred only to people who are fully vaccinated. These freedoms will be subject to presenting proof of vaccination:

• the following may now reopen for fully immunized people only, to a maximum capacity of 50 percent: movie theatres, bingo halls, VLT lounges and casinos, and museums and galleries. Museums operate under the fully vaccinated requirement when open to the public as a museum, both indoors and out, and if the museum is used as a private venue for another purpose (e.g. wedding), then the appropriate orders apply. Unvaccinated children under 12 may attend/visit these facilities/events (as appropriate) if accompanied by fully vaccinated members of their household.
• large-scale, outdoor professional sports, or performing arts events may operate with capacities up to 100 percent after developing an approved event plan in consultation with public health.

Notably, the Winnipeg Blue Bomber home opener, scheduled for August 5, will go forward at 100 percent capacity, with only fully vaccinated fans allowed to attend.

Mask usage and physical distancing are both still required under these most recent health orders.

“This is the safe, reasonable and appropriate next step in our reopening,” says Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s public health officer. “More and more vaccinations allow us to loosen public health restrictions. But COVID-19 is still circulating in the province and continues to challenge our hospital and ICU capacity, a phased reopening is a safe reopening.”

Finally, Pallister continues to echo the need for caution and care in the province’s reopening plan.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint. We are not at the finish line yet, the race to beat COVID-19 is not over yet,” says Pallister. “Until that race is over, Manitobans must continue to do their part and fulfil the two most important public health responsibilities each of us have; get fully vaccinated and follow the public health orders designed to keep COVID-19 away.”

Both Pallister and Roussin indicated that the province is on track to reach its final vaccination goal early as well. That goal will require 80 percent of Manitoba to be fully vaccinated, with 75 percent having received a second dose.

That said, Dr. Roussin, as well as those responsible for operating the province’s vaccination task force, intend to achieve the highest level of vaccination possible.

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