Masks to become mandatory in Manitoba again; new vaccine rules for government workers
The Manitoba government will require designated provincial employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 31 or undergo regular testing, and will reintroduce a mask mandate for indoor public spaces.
Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday, noting that this vaccination rule applies to provincial workers who work with vulnerable populations.
“As we prepare for the fourth wave of the pandemic and the new school year, it is critical that we do everything we can to get all Manitobans who are eligible fully vaccinated and protect those who cannot get vaccinated as well, which is our young people,” the premier said.
These designated workers include direct health-care providers and workers, educational workers, child-care workers, public servants and funded-agency employees who work in high-risk settings with direct contact with the public, and Manitoba Justice employees who work with vulnerable people and in correctional facilities. Some of the jobs that fall under these categories include, but are not limited to, physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, teachers, school and educational support staff, and school bus drivers and custodians.
“As a government, it is our expectation to lead by example. We will require all government staff in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly to follow these policies, (and) that will include MLAs,” Pallister said.
In addition, the province will also reintroduce its mandatory mask mandate for indoor public spaces, including schools, in the coming days. Roussin said this will be in place before the school year starts.
Manitoba will also expand the list of activities and services that can only be accessed if an individual is fully immunized.
The province is expecting to provide details on which places will require full vaccinations later this week.
“We’re strengthening the value of being vaccinated and the utility of the ‘Vax Pass’ in our province,” Pallister said.
The province noted it is bringing back the mask mandate as a protective measure against the Delta variant and the possibility of a fourth wave.
Under these new public health orders, designated provincial workers who are not fully vaccinated or can’t provide proof of vaccination will need to submit testing up to three times a week for full-time employees. They will also need to provide proof of a negative test before they can resume working.
Employees who are opting to get vaccinated will need to get their first dose by Sept. 7 and the second dose by Oct. 17.
Acceptable proof of vaccination includes a physical or digital immunization card or a secure printed provincial immunization record.
To be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, an individual is required to have two doses of approved vaccines with more than 14 days since the second vaccination took place. Those who are at least 14 days out from receiving one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are also considered fully immunized.
“Our vaccine rate is not rising quickly enough,” Roussin said.
“The increased transmission of the Delta variant, we can see, can lead to a rapid rise in cases, which again puts stresses on the health-care system and critical care capacity.”