Capacity limits for businesses, indoor mask mandate to end in Manitoba starting Saturday
Manitoba is taking another step toward fully reopening as the province announced new public health orders will be coming into effect, allowing more businesses to reopen and lifting the province's mandatory mask mandate.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said more than 80 per cent of eligible Manitobans have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 71.4 per cent are now fully vaccinated, and 75 per cent of Manitobans are expected to be fully vaccinated this week.
He said with these vaccine numbers, it is allowing Manitoba to go ahead with its newest public health orders, which will come into effect on Aug. 7.
As part of the new orders, mask-wearing will not be required by the province but it will still be strongly recommended for those who are not fully immunized including kids under 12.
Roussin also noted businesses can still require masks.
Some of the new orders will allow many businesses to fully reopen with no restrictions, they include:
- Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences;
- Gyms and fitness centres;
- Services such as hair and nail salons;
- Day camps; and
- Retail businesses, markets, garden centres, and malls.
The new orders will also require limited restrictions for other sectors, such as:
- Weddings and funerals will have the same capacity limits. Capacity is limited to 50 people or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is greater, while dance floors will remain closed and activities that encourage close gathering and mingling are not recommended;
- Space between tables will not be required at bars or restaurants and dining will not be contained to households or vaccinated people. However, the province said people are expected to avoid socializing between tables;
- The capacity limit at museums, galleries and movie theatres will stay at 50 per cent but these facilities will not be restricted to vaccinated people;
- Casinos and bingo halls, professional sporting events, concert halls and horse and auto racing facilities will now be allowed to open at 100 per cent capacity but will still be limited to vaccinated individuals;
- Spectator capacity will still have limits for indoor and outdoor sports recreation;
- Overnight camps will be allowed with limits on cohorts; and
- Workplaces must continue to report cases to the government and public health said remote working is no longer required or recommended. Businesses are now encouraged to create a plan to reduce the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19.
These public health orders will be in effect until Sept. 7.
Roussin said this is the largest reopening the province has had since the start of the pandemic and he recommends that people stay patient throughout the process.
"Be kind with others. There will be people who are more open to the loosening restrictions than others, some people may still choose to not take part in crowded events. Some businesses may still require the use of masks," said Roussin.
He noted while these are the new health orders, businesses can still make their own policies which could include requiring people to be vaccinated.
The top doctor was also asked why the province is going ahead with the latest round of reopening and removing the mask mandate considering how prominent the Delta variant is throughout Canada and around the world.
"Each province has to follow the epidemiology in their province. So certainly, we might see the beginnings of a fourth wave in certain areas potentially around the world. In Manitoba, although we are seeing an increase in (the) proportion of cases of Delta, we are seeing that in the face of declining case numbers and declining test positivity."
He said Manitobans have stepped up to get vaccinated, but still encouraged more people to get the shot, noting the 80 per cent first dose and 75 per cent second dose goals are not the endpoint for the pandemic.