Manitoba is falling back into a previous mask mandate, as well as introducing new, tighter restrictions for many public spaces.
Changes are coming to Manitoba's COVID-19 response as officials make alterations to the public health orders. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon are updating the health orders days after the province shared alarming COVID-19 projections.
"The emergence of the Delta variant has changed things significantly. Now, Public Health officials tell us this pandemic is one of the unimmunized," Gordan says in a press conference Friday.
As of Saturday, all indoor public spaces will require people to wear face masks.
Roussin says now, they are expanding their vaccine passport system, lifting capacity limits at some places and implementing vaccine requirements.
There are no proposed changes to faith-based gatherings, weddings, or funerals aside from the mask mandate in indoor public spaces.
On Friday, September 3, many public businesses and events will open only for those who are fully immunized.
• indoor and outdoor ticketed sporting events and concerts;
• indoor theatre/dance/symphony events;
• restaurants (indoor and patio dining);
• nightclubs and all other licensed premises;
• casinos, bingo halls and VLT lounges;
• movie theatres;
• fitness centres, gyms and indoor sporting and recreational facilities (excluding youth recreational sport). Masks do not need to be worn while engaged in physical activities.
• organized indoor group recreational classes and activities, and indoor recreational businesses.
Capacity limits will be lifted in these facilities.
The only exclusion is for children who are 11-years-old and younger if accompanied by an adult. No end date was given with the Friday announcement.
Businesses will be expected to enforce these orders. Employees in affected industries will not be required to be fully immunized. Roussin does not expect there to be much of a financial impact on businesses.
"The Winnipeg Chamber supports today’s actions to avert the human and economic turmoil being seen in other provinces," President and CEO Loren Remillard says in a joint statement with the province. "We will continue to work with our members to ensure they have the tools they need to support the province's public health orders."
Shaun Jeffrey, executive director and chief executive officer of Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association joins the statement, saying "we recognize the latest changes as a short-term measure that models a proactive approach to eliminate the requirement for more permanent restrictions that would cause further detriment to an industry that has faced monumental challenges over the last 16 months."
Roussin says the fourth wave will mostly affect those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. In Southern Health–Santé Sud's region, where low vaccine uptake continues, 13 of Friday's 14 COVID-19 cases were in people who did not receive a vaccine. Of the total 31 cases, 26 people were unvaccinated. The doctor says they may take a regional approach to the orders in the future but for now, the orders are province-wide.