A group of Manitobans rallied outside the Manitoba Legislature on Wednesday, protesting the government's decision to remove the mask mandate – a decision the protestors say is dangerous.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said the province would no longer be mandating the use of masks in indoor public spaces when new health orders take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7.
"This is a big mistake to remove masks," said Dr. Lisa Bryski, a Winnipeg physician who was among the protestors at the Legislature on Wednesday.
She said it is the wrong time to remove the mask mandate – especially with the Delta variant in play in the province, and other areas in the world seeing a resurgence of COVID-19.
"To have us remove a mask mandate at the time when we're going to need to get into prep mode is nonsense. It is dangerous. It is dropping the ball," Bryski said.
She fears for the children under 12 who have not had an opportunity to be vaccinated – a fear that is being exacerbated with the return to the classroom one month away.
"Without (the province) having a plan that they've discussed with us showing that they've taken indoor ventilation seriously enough to let people start preparing, I think it is a recipe for disaster."
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont echoed the concerns, saying it doesn't make sense for the province to remove the mask mandate.
He said the province should be listening to health-care professionals.
"It's absolutely critical, because they have been ignored so often," Lamont said.
"Time and time again, you had people calling on the government to act - to do something or not to do something - and the government didn't listen, and we ended up in a disaster."
They are not the only ones taking issue with the removal of the mask mandate in Manitoba.
Following the province's announcement, doctors, experts, and businesses have spoken out about their concerns.
Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr told CTV News that not wearing a mask poses a public health risk, especially with the Delta variant in Manitoba.
Dr. Anand Kumar, an infectious disease specialist and ICU physician, said the government's decision to lift the mask mandate, "puts everyone at risk."
He said masks protect those under 12 who can't be vaccinated.
Multiple businesses have also said they will continue to require masks, regardless of the province's decision to remove the mandate.
Dorota Blumczyńska, the CEO of the Manitoba Museum, asked visitors to keep their masks on when in the museum.
"Thousands of young kids visit us, they’re not vaccinated; help us protect them, each other, our community," she said in a post on Twitter.
Roussin said on Tuesday that businesses can decide for themselves if they want to continue to require customers to wear masks.
He said public health strongly recommends those who are not fully vaccinated, as well as children under 12, continue to wear masks in indoor public places.
-with files from CTV's Kayla Rosen, Renee Rodgers and Michael D'Alimonte