The future looks bright for Manitobans as many public health restrictions are lifted
By Maryam Razzaq
The Manitoba government announced the new official public health orders for the province. Of the new guidelines, the mandatory mask mandate for indoor public spaces will be lifted effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 7.
“Public health will no longer require mask use in indoor public spaces under the public health orders. However, we know that COVID-19 will be with us. COVID-19 will be in a post-pandemic Manitoba, as well as other respiratory viruses such as influenza and RSV,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health office for Manitoba.
Though the mask mandate is being lifted, Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin recognized that COVID-19 will continue to remain within the province and as such, have recommended that those who are not fully vaccinated continue to wear masks indoors. This includes children under 12 who are yet to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Manitoba government and Dr. Roussin continue to emphasize to Manitobans to keep two metres of distance from others in indoor spaces. Individual businesses may also decide on whether they will require their customers to wear masks indoors.
Masks continue to be required during entry and while in healthcare facilities – this includes hospitals and personal care homes.
With Manitoba’s Phase 3 re-opening plan, the following sectors will open without restrictions:
- Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences
- Gyms and fitness centres
- Retail businesses, markets, garden centres and malls
- Personal services, such as hair and nail salons
- Day camps
Other sectors will remain open with limited capacity. These include:
- Indoor gatherings and organized events, limited to 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater
- Outdoor gatherings and organized events, limited to 1,500 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lesser
- Indoor community, cultural and religious gatherings, 150 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater
- Indoor and outdoor sports and recreation will be fully open with limits to spectator capacity
- Overnight camps will be permitted with limits on camp cohorts of 15 individuals
- Restaurant and bars will no longer need to restrict the size and space between tables and dining in with not be restricted to household or only vaccinated individuals
- Casinos and bingo halls, professional sporting events, horse and auto racing and concert halls will be limited to vaccinated individuals to 100% capacity
- Workplaces must continue to report public health confirmed transmissions of COVID-19 and report cases to government for follow-up
- Remote working is no longer required or recommended by public health. Workplaces are encouraged to transition from COVID-10 safety plans that focus on basic risk-reduction principles to reduce workplace transmission
As of today, public health officials in Manitoba advised three new deaths due to COVID-19. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 2.5 per cent provincially and 1.9 per cent in Winnipeg. 101 COVID-19 cases have been identified since Friday: 27 cases on July 31; 34 cases on Aug 1; 19 cases Aug 2; and 22 cases today. The total lab confirmed cases in Manitoba is 57,691.
Though Manitoba seems to be moving on with COVID-19 as a reality of everyday life, many health professionals including Manitoba based epidemiologist, Cynthia Carr do not think the mask mandate should be lifted.
“There is no reason to remove masks at the expense of potentially allowing more spread of this virus, particularly the Delta variant. Decisions that were made two weeks ago or a month ago in anticipation of the future always need to be reviewed,” said Carr.
The province continues to encourage Manitobans to get vaccinated as new COVID-19 cases will be primarily in unvaccinated communities.