Southern Manitoba residents celebrating relaxed restrictions for certain communities
Manitoba's current public health orders are being extended for another three weeks, but starting Tuesday, restrictions are relaxing for six municipalities in southern Manitoba, which has residents excited for the change.
On Monday, the province announced that the following communities would be exempt from the cap on retail capacity that’s been mandated for the Southern Health region: Cartier, Headingley, Macdonald, Niverville-Ritchot, St. Francois Xavier and Tache.
"I am pumped. It is one step closer to returning back to normal. So what more can you ask for?” said Kris Dueck, a Niverville resident.
According to the Manitoba government, these exemptions are due to vaccination rates and the proximity of the communities to Winnipeg.
"Considering their vaccine rates are more consistent with that of Winnipeg, as well as their proximity to Winnipeg, the new public health orders will see these select municipalities treated like Winnipeg and the rest of the province," said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, at a news conference on Monday.
After his community was included in tightened health restrictions for the Southern Health region last month, Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck had been petitioning the government for an exception.
"But this time, with it being that we are in Southern Health, where there’s, you know, lower vaccination rates compared to where we are, we didn't think that was right. We said you've done it before, Please do it again,” Dyck said.
The town of Niverville currently has a vaccination rate of 83.4 per cent, just below Winnipeg's 89 per cent, but much higher than Southern Health's 67.8 per cent.
"The province wants municipal leaders to advocate for vaccines, to incentivize people. The decision beforehand kind of usurped the authority of municipal leaders whereas this gives us the authority and we are thankful for that,” Dyck said.
Over at Turning Point Youth Drop-In Centre in Niverville, the relaxed capacity limit is being celebrated.
"It's a huge help to my mind the amount of complications we have to jump through while trying to abide by meaningful regulations but still help the kids that really need it," said Gordon Kroker, director of Turning Point.
This is a sentiment echoed by other Niverville residents.
"I think it is exciting for everyone. Any step in the right direction is always going to be a good step for everybody," said Tyler Hawryluk, a Niverville resident.
The public health orders will be in place until Nov. 16.