To increase COVID-19 preparedness and address the fourth wave, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced last week that the Province would be taking three new steps to help reduce COVID-19 transmission:
- moving to the restricted (orange) level on the Pandemic Response System from caution (yellow) to reflect the increased severity of risk (schools are not affected by this change and will remain in yellow)
- introducing additional public health orders that expand requirements for proof of immunization and reduce gathering sizes when unvaccinated individuals are present; and
- implementing new patient protocols to ensure additional health system capacity when needed.
The new public health orders come into effect at 12:01 AM, Tuesday, Oct. 5, with an additional one-week grace period for weddings and funerals already scheduled to minimize disruption.
The orders will allow fully vaccinated Manitobans to continue to enjoy as much freedom and as few restrictions as possible. Unvaccinated individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated will now be more restricted in their activities. This includes:
- limiting private indoor gatherings for households to guests from one other household when any unvaccinated person who is eligible to be vaccinated is present on the property (even if the unvaccinated person lives at that location);
- limiting private outdoor gatherings for households to 10 guests when any unvaccinated person who is eligible to be vaccinated is present on the property (even if the unvaccinated person lives at that location);
- reducing indoor public gathering group sizes to 25 people or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is lower, for gatherings that include unvaccinated people who are eligible to be vaccinated, including weddings and funerals; and
- setting indoor group sizes for faith-based gatherings to 25 people or 33 per cent capacity, whichever is greater, for gatherings that include unvaccinated people who are eligible to be vaccinated.
Fully immunized Manitobans and those under 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine may gather without capacity limits in each of these areas. Household gatherings, weddings, funerals and faith-based gatherings can occur for fully vaccinated individuals and those under 12 without any restrictions.
The public health orders will also:
- reduce all outdoor public gathering sizes to 50 people; and
- move retail capacity to 50 per cent in the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in this region.
“Our data shows that vaccination works, as the vast majority of hospitalizations and ICU admissions are in people who are unvaccinated,” said Roussin. “But nearly 400,000 Manitobans are either unable or unwilling to get vaccinated and our health-care system remains at risk from the delta variant of COVID-19 with case numbers and hospitalizations rising.”
Future changes may include requiring all those eligible to be vaccinated to provide proof of vaccination to participate in indoor recreational activities and allowing partially vaccinated youth aged 12 to 17 (with one vaccine dose) to participate. Conversations will continue with sports organizations and other stakeholders to seek feedback.