Major changes could be coming to Manitoba's COVID-19 response.
Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin are sharing COVID-19 updates. Manitoba could be moving to Orange: Restricted on the Pandemic Response System but Roussin says they want to know if the public wants the changes to occur before or after Easter, as the current orders expire on Thursday, March 25. This also falls at the start of Passover.
"I have said and I will continue to say that the future is in all of our hands," Pallister says in a Thursday press conference.
He says if Manitobans follow Roussin's COVID-19 fundamentals, there are "more good days ahead."
"We can not be living in a lockdown forever," Roussin says, noting that Manitobans need to live with the virus.
Possible changes to the public health orders include:
- increasing gathering limits at outdoor public places to 25 people;
- increasing gathering limits at weddings, funerals and other gatherings to 25 people;
- expanding capacity at religious services to a 25 per cent or a 250-person capacity, whichever is lower, with other public health measures still in effect;
- expanding the capacity limits for retail stores to 50 per cent or a 500-person capacity, whichever is lower, with other public health measures still in effect;
- allowing people to eat at the same table with other people in the indoor area of a restaurant, as long as everyone seated at a table has designated those individuals to visit them in their home;
- allowing organized team games at indoor sporting facilities;
- allowing youth to not wear a mask while taking part in indoor sporting activities, but requiring mask use in other areas of the facility;
- enabling indoor theatres, indoor concert halls, casinos and gaming centres to open at 25 per cent or a 250-person capacity, whichever is lower, with other public health measures still in effect;
- removing the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days for interprovincial/domestic travellers who travel for business reasons and do not have symptoms.
There are no proposed changes to private gathering sizes.
These changes come after slow restarts and months of decreasing cases and hospital numbers. Roussin says for this to work, Manitobans need to avoid a third wave.
"I think it is a very optimistic time as we see more and more of our vulnerable Manitobansgetting vaccinated, but it is too early to let our guards down," Roussin says.
Looking for feedback, the province has created a survey.
All of the Public Health restrictions would be province-wide if implemented. The current Public Health Orders end on March 25, but this could change depending on when the province wants to see the loosened health orders.
There are no changes pending for other religious activities, needing to follow other gathering restrictions such as day camp restrictions or indoor and outdoor public gathering sizes.
This is a developing story and will be updated.