Manitobans will be able to enjoy more freedoms this weekend as new public health orders are set to come into effect.
Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, announced yesterday that the province will implement new public health orders and guidance on Aug. 7, one month earlier than originally forecast.
"Thanks to the remarkable efforts of Manitobans, we are now in a position to reopen more, sooner, as we have achieved our highest vaccination rates yet," said Pallister. "This means Manitobans will enjoy the least restrictive public health orders since the start of the pandemic last year."
As of yesterday 80 per cent of Manitobans age 12 and over have received their first dose and 75 per cent are expected to receive their second dose over the next week. With continued improvement in the overall COVID-19 situation, the premier noted the interim orders only restrict the most high-risk transmission environments. Public health recommendations and guidance, rather than restrictions, will play an increasingly significant role as the province prepares for a shift from pandemic to endemic COVID-19.
Specifically, the new public health orders will allow the following sectors to open without restrictions:
• indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences;
• gyms and fitness centres;
• personal services such as hair and nail salons;
• day camps; and
• retail businesses, markets, garden centres and malls.
Other sectors will open with limited restrictions including:
• expanded capacity limits will remain in place for weddings, funerals and other public gatherings both indoors and outdoors including larger capacity limits for worship and cultural events like pow wows;
• restaurants and bars will no longer need to restrict the size or space between tables and dining will not be restricted to households or vaccinated individuals; however, patrons will still be expected to avoid congregating or socializing between tables;
• museums, galleries and movie theatres will remain limited to 50 per cent capacity but will no longer be restricted to vaccinated individuals;
• casinos and bingo halls, professional sporting events, horse and auto racing, and concert halls will continue to be limited to vaccinated individuals; however, all these facilities may now open to 100 per cent capacity;
• indoor and outdoor sports and recreation will fully reopen with limits only on spectator capacity;
• overnight camps will be permitted with limits on camper cohorts;
• workplaces must continue to report cases to government for followup and public health-confirmed transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace may result in workplaces being ordered to close for a minimum of 10 days; and
• remote working will no longer be required or recommended by public health and workplaces will be encouraged to transition from COVID-19 safety plans to a general communicable disease prevention plan that focuses on basic risk-reduction principles to reduce the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
Due to the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in Manitoba and elsewhere, and the extra risk posed by the more contagious delta variant, provincial public health officials strongly recommend the following:
• wearing masks in indoor public spaces for everyone who is not fully immunized including children under 12; and
• maintaining physical distancing of two metres (six feet) in indoor settings.
“Unless you are fully immunized, you are still at risk for more severe effects of COVID-19, such as requiring hospital care or even death,” said Roussin. “We are slowly but surely approaching a post-pandemic Manitoba, but this does not mean COVID-19 will disappear. We need to remain cautious and vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of this virus.”
The new public health orders will go into effect at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 7. The orders will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and will be reassessed at that time in the context of vaccination rates and the province’s overall COVID-19 situation.
“We are very close to hitting that final milestone in our reopening path and reopening fully and completely,” said Pallister. “We need everyone on ‘Team Manitoba’ to for this final stretch. Get vaccinated – not once, but twice – and follow the public health orders and guidance designed to bend our COVID curve down, and keep it down.”