On Monday, April 26, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, announced stricter public health orders amid Manitoba’s 3rd wave and the increasing virulence and presence of variants of concern.
According to Dr. Roussin, public health is treating all cases as if they are variants of concern, and Manitoba reported more than 700 positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19 since Friday. In today’s presser, he noted troubling increases in case counts among all age groups, but particularly among young adults in their 20s and 30s, as well as increased hospitalization rates and an overall lower average age of hospitalized individuals than previously seen.
“We are seeing daily increases that basically replicate what we saw in October 2020 as we entered our 2nd wave. We are tracing a lot of transmission to private gatherings that are not consistent with the health orders,” said Dr. Roussin.
Prolonged, indoor, close contact is contributing to the greatest rates of transmission, and increased enforcement is absolutely an option at this critical time. Bottom line, household gatherings should not be occurring indoor or outdoor at this point, but if you are spending time outdoors, and there are members of other households present, keep that distance and wear a mask.
Dr. Roussin shared that everything is a balance, such as trying to keep Manitoba children in schools, and trying to ensure they can benefit physically and mentally from organized sports, while reducing spectator numbers and tightening retail, religious, and cultural event capacity rates.
“We know that restrictions have health effects, so we try our best to implement the least restrictive measures possible. But given the trajectory we’re on, we simply have to focus on bending down that curve right now.”
“We are all disappointed to be facing further restrictions. We have to work together to make a difference and reduce these case numbers by focusing on the fundamentals, and getting vaccinated as soon as we’re eligible,” said Chuck Davidson, President & CEO, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. “The MCC has been consistently advocating for our business community, and pushing for responsive emergency relief. It’s critical for business owners to explore their eligibility for existing relief funds, hiring programs, loans, and deferrals, and to stay up-to-date on evolving criteria. Until vaccination hits a crucial tipping point, we need to take advantage of everything available to us to stay financially viable.”
“These new restrictions are short-term hardships and small sacrifices we need to make to protect the health and well-being of all Manitobans,” said Premier Brian Pallister. “We simply cannot risk overwhelming our health care system.”
Adjustments come into effect on Wednesday, and will remain in effect until after May long weekend, unless we can effect a significant change to “save the long weekend.”
As of 12:01 AM, April 28 for a period of four weeks (expiry on May 26):
- no visitors allowed to private households either indoors or outdoors with certain exceptions incl. allowing one visitor for people who live alone;
- no indoor gatherings permitted and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people allowed in public outdoor spaces only;
- faith-based gatherings limited to 25 per cent capacity or a maximum of 10 people, whichever is lower, with indoor mask use required at all times;
- patio dining restricted to groups of four people only with no household restrictions;
- food courts in malls and shopping centres required to close;
- gyms and fitness centres continue to be limited to 25 per cent 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 limited to one parent/caregiver spectator per youth participant, if physical distancing of two metres (six ft.) is maintained;
- dance, theatre and music schools will continue to be limited to 25 per cent 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 m (six ft.) is maintained;
- personal service business will be able to continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity, but appointments required;
- day camps permitted to have up to 10 children indoors and outdoors; and
- retail stores limited to 25 per cent of the capacity of the store or up to 250 patrons, whichever is lower, and malls limited to 25 per cent of the facility’s capacity.
In addition to these changes, enforcement will be enhanced in key sectors including for self-isolation requirements. Stakeholder outreach will be also be increased in malls and other spaces where gatherings are taking place