The newest public health orders say that Manitobans will soon be able to head to things like private homes and retail businesses without capacity restrictions – and no masks.
The new orders come into effect Saturday and include no capacity limits or masks for:
- 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.
Some restrictions will still be enforced, 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.
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Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister made the announcement Tuesday.
Dr. Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said he recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear masks and follow public health guidelines closely.
He also said that businesses are allowed to still require masks if they’d like.
“We may have to consider public health measures” if areas do have Delta variant outbreaks, said Roussin.
However, the Delta variant is beginning to increase hospital counts, and experts say Canada is at the beginning of a Delta-led fourth wave of the novel coronavirus.
The warning came from chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday, who pointed at the upward trend in cases across Canada. The Canadian public health agency’s long-range epidemic forecasts suggest “we are the start of a Delta-driven fourth wave,” Tam told reporters at a press conference.
Tam warned that if vaccine uptake doesn’t increase among the country’s younger populations, cases could eventually exceed some communities’ health-care system capacities.
The news also comes on the heels of a new CDC report and study, the former of which warned that the Delta COVID-19 variant could be as contagious as chickenpox and the latter pointing to a string of outbreaks even among those who have been vaccinated.
However, according to Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the division of infectious diseases at Queen’s University, Canada’s fourth wave of COVID-19 will differ greatly from its previous ones despite the CDC reports and warning from PHAC officials.
He said that there’s “no way” that such a wave would be as big as the previous ones simply because of Canada’s vaccinations rates, which remain among the highest in the world.
Evans said new cases would primarily be in unvaccinated communities, pointing to the fact that more than 97 per cent of all new cases in Canada were among those who did not get a shot.
Canadian history remarks
The press conference also marks Pallister’s first time in front of the media in 19 days, after he ignited a firestorm by saying that people who came to colonize Canada didn’t mean to destroy Indigenous communities.
“The people who came here to this country, before it was a country and since, didn’t come here to destroy anything. They came here to build. They came to build better,” he said.
“We need to respect our heritage just as we need to respect one another…. Not to find fault, not to tear down, not to highlight every failure, but rather to realize that we’re a complex country as we are made up of complex people,” Pallister said at a July 7 news conference.
A week later on July 15, he doubled down on those comments after former minister of Indigenous and northern relations Eileen Clarke stepped down from her post because of “inappropriate words and actions,” but did not point a finger directly at the premier.
Tuesday, Pallister said he will be releasing a statement later in the day about the comments, and said he apologizes “for the misunderstanding I caused.”
— with files from David Lao