Beginning tomorrow, mask use will be required again in all indoor public spaces in Manitoba. The new public health order requiring mask use will come into effect on August 28 at 12:01 am.
As well, Manitoba is expanding the vaccine passport benefit for fully immunized individuals that will enable businesses, services and events to be available without capacity limits or public health restrictions as of September 3. Manitoba Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon made that announcement Friday afternoon.
"The emergence of the delta variant has changed things significantly. Now, public health officials tell us the pandemic is one of the unimmunized and we must take these extra steps to protect the nearly 230,000 children who are not yet eligible for immunization," says Gordon. "Manitoba's vaccine passport benefit will help encourage greater vaccine uptake, which is necessary to protect our health-care system from the COVID-19 fourth wave."
The province of Manitoba has developed new requirements for people to be fully immunized to participate in certain events and activities. These requirements will come into effect by public health order on September 3 for all health regions and will include:
- 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); and
- organized indoor group recreational classes and activities, and indoor recreational businesses.
Children 11 and under who are not eligible to be immunized will be able to attend events and activities with a fully immunized adult.
The minister notes these new public health orders complement the mandatory vaccination steps taken earlier this week requiring all designated provincial public service workers who have ongoing contact with vulnerable populations, especially children, to be fully immunized. These individuals will need to receive their first dose by September 7 and their second dose by October 17 to be fully immunized by October 31.
Designated employees who are not fully immunized or cannot provide proof of vaccination will need to undergo regular COVID-19 testing, up to three times a week for full-time employees, and provide proof of a negative test result before they can resume working.
Manitoba Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin, says these public health orders will reduce the need for more stringent public health restrictions and lockdowns that would otherwise be necessary to combat the COVID-19 fourth wave and protect the province's hospital and critical care capacities.
"Ensuring that people are fully immunized before attending higher-risk events, activities and services will help reduce community spread of the virus," says Dr. Roussin. "Already, we are seeing more of the newly identified cases are in people who have not yet been immunized, and we need to take these steps to protect them, others in their communities and the health-care system from the effects of the delta variant."
Manitoba released new COVID-19 case numbers today that show unvaccinated individuals are accounting for a significant proportion of all new cases. Of the 31 new cases identified today, 26 were in individuals who were unvaccinated. In the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, 13 of the 14 cases identified today were in individuals who were unvaccinated.
As of today, 76.2 per cent of Manitobans age 12 and up have received two doses of vaccine, and 81.7 per cent have received at least one dose.
Dr. Roussin again notes that public health officials recommend that private businesses and organizations follow the province's lead and consider mandating COVID-19 vaccination for their employees to protect their customers and staff, and to reduce the chance of an outbreak at their workplaces.