Manitoba's Premier and Chief Public Health Officer are announcing changes to the Public Health Orders, most effective as soon as midnight Tuesday.
Changes to the health orders, mostly around gathering sizes, are coming Tuesday. Dr. Brent Roussin is confident Manitobans will continue to follow the Public Health Orders, despite COVID fatigue and Public Health Order confusion being prevalent in Manitobans. Roussin says the vast majority are following the orders and expects that to continue.
"We are at a very important place right now where we need to avert this third wave and I really think that these orders right here are our last chance to flatten our curve in a third wave before we will have to revert back to more stringent Public Health restrictions," Roussin says in a Monday press conference.
The doctor says they were expecting a 50 per cent growth in cases if no new orders were given.
"We do have more tools in our tool kit than we did in the second wave," Roussin says. "We still need to work together."
He says the increase in vaccines and the upcoming summer encouraging, but he needs Manitobans to follow the fundamentals to avoid going back into the strict orders seen late last year. Roussin says the "best bet" to decreasing the severity of the health orders and lowering cases is getting the vaccine as soon as eligible.
"There is certainly reason to be optimistic moving forward. All pandemics end, including this one, so there will be an end to it. As we roll out more and more vaccines we are going to start seeing the benefits of that. And as we start seeing those benefits, we will be able to loosen the restitution moving forward."
Roussin is asking those who got the vaccine to be role models to those who have not and continue to follow the health orders.
The increase in cases is in part a result of Easter gatherings and travel, but the number of variant of concern cases and their transmission trends is the driving force. Two-thirds of cases are variants of concern.
Orders starting Tuesday
Households will return to two designated visitors inside, and 10, including household members, outside.
While outdoor masks are not in the health orders and was earlier propositioned, Roussin is advising those who cannot distance to wear a mask outside.
Masks continue to not need to wear a mask while seated in-household groups at a faith-based gathering, which as of midnight will be limited to 50 people or 25 per cent, whichever capacity is lower.
"We have very strict capacity limits in churches right now and we have just made them even more strict," Roussin says.
Roussin continues to recommend wearing a mask at all times when indoors.
Weddings and funerals are being limited to 10 people or fewer, excluding the officiant and photographer. Roussin says there have been groups of COVID-19 cases linked to larger funerals.
Orders starting Wednesday
As of midnight Wednesday, retail stores are being limited in their capacity, cutting it to one-third of its usual capacity, up to 333 customers. This included malls.
All of the new changes will be in effect for three weeks, ending on May 12.
Roussin says they are finding more cases in those aged 10-19. He says most of these cases are occurring when young people are gathering outside of schools to have playdates and sleepovers. Schools continue to operate as usual.