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Letter from prominent current, former Manitobans calls for tighter COVID-19 restrictions

A group of prominent current and former Manitobans are calling on the provincial government to enact tougher COVID-19 restrictions. John Woods / The Canadian Press

More than 30 well-known current and former Manitobans have signed a letter calling for more restrictive COVID-19 rules.

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray, musician Fred Penner and former senator Sharon Carstairs are among the signatories.

Read more: COVID-19 variant linked to another death in Manitoba, 300 new variant cases reported Friday

The letter calls for unspecified “extreme action” to stop the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

“It is clear that there is a final window of opportunity for Manitoba to blunt the impact of what is about to happen,” the letter reads in part.

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“It will only get worse without immediate action. Public health measures must be accompanied by support for businesses and paid sick leave for essential workers.”

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The letter comes as the province recorded another high number of new COVID-19 cases after seeing several weeks of daily case counts in the double digits.

Read more: Manitoba opens vaccination to all adults in 3 areas of Winnipeg designated COVID-19 hot spots

Health officials reported 181 new cases, two deaths Friday.

The percentage of people testing positive has increased, as has the number of people in intensive care with COVID-19.

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A top official said stricter public-health orders are under consideration and may be enacted soon, but none had been recommended to the Progressive Conservative government as of Friday.

Premier Brian Pallister, meanwhile, has nixed stronger health measures, saying Manitoba already has tight rules that include mandatory self-isolation after travel and social gatherings.

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Read more: Manitoba reports 261 new COVID-19 cases, premier rejects call for near lockdown

“Our restrictions, which are and continue to be some of the most limiting in the country … have effectively helped Manitobans to bend the curve down,” Pallister said Thursday.

“We’re continually monitoring the situation with the guidance of our public health officials. And although I know there are probably a hundred thousand other people out there that have opinions, I’m going to stick with (chief public health officer Dr.) Brent Roussin as my principal adviser when it comes to this.”

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Manitoba currently requires anyone arriving in the province to self-isolate for 14 days and caps outdoor public gatherings at 10 people.

Retail outlets have strict capacity limits. Restaurants can only seat members of the same household together at indoor tables. People can only have two designated visitors inside their homes.

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The rules were even tougher last fall after Manitoba saw its case numbers and hospitalization rates jump. Restaurants were banned from offering indoor dining, and non-essential retail outlets were only allowed to provide delivery and curbside pickup.

Read more: Vaccination doesn’t mean a return to pre-COVID-19 lifestyle, Manitoba health official says

On Friday the Opposition New Democrats said tougher measures should be imposed right away to avoid a repeat of last fall, when the province was in the grips of a second wave of the pandemic.

“We’re seeing this movie that we watched last year repeat itself,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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