'We're looking at a restriction-free Manitoba by spring': Province taking first step to completely remove restrictions
The Manitoba government is taking a "cautious" step toward reducing public health orders in the province with the goal of having no restrictions by the spring.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, and Premier Heather Stefanson announced new orders are scheduled to come into effect on Feb. 8 and will be in place until Feb. 22.
Officials said the changes are being made because the COVID-19 situation is stabilizing or improving.
"As this week has passed we see that many of those indicators continue to be stable or trending in the right direction and so we are getting a better understanding of where we are in this wave," said Roussin.
Stefanson said if COVID data continues to trend in the right direction, restrictions will continue to be loosened over the next several weeks and months.
"Situation permitting and based off of what the data is telling us at the time, we will be looking to remove a significant amount of capacity limits and restrictions," said Stefanson. "Later this spring we hope to be in a position of relaxing nearly all restrictions and moving to recommendations."
Roussin also reiterated the premier's comments about the end goal of the restrictions.
"Given where we are right now, if we don't see anything unexpected, we're looking at a restriction-free Manitoba by spring."
Stefanson said she understands this has been an extremely difficult time over the last two-plus years, noting the entire province will get through this together.
The new orders will impact gathering restrictions in private and public areas, sports and recreation tournaments and liquor sales.
These orders include:
- Increasing private indoor gatherings to 25 people plus household members if everyone is vaccinated;
- Private indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people will be increased to 10 people plus household members;
- Private outdoor gatherings will be increased to 50 people plus household members if all are fully vaccinated and gathering with unvaccinated people will be 20 plus household members;
- Restaurants and other licensed premises can have 50 per cent capacity and 10 people maximum are allowed per table. Liquor sales will be allowed until midnight daily. Masks and proof of vaccination are still required;
- Gyms and fitness centres will be 50 per cent capacity with proof of vaccine;
- Casinos, bingo halls and VLTs will be allowed 50 per cent capacity with proof of vaccination;
- Museums and galleries will also increase capacity to 50 per cent will require vaccine proof;
- Professional sports and performing arts events can now have capacity limits up to 50 per cent with proof of immunization;
- Movie theatres will also be strictly 50 per cent capacity with proof of vaccine;
- Religious gatherings with unvaccinated people will stay at 25 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is lower. But services with fully immunized people can now be 50 per cent capacity;
- Indoor sports and recreation events will have 50 per cent capacity at facilities with proof of vaccine for everyone 18 and over. Tournaments will once again be allowed. Outdoor games, practices and tournaments are allowed with spectator capacity at 50 per cent;
- All retail will be at 100 per cent throughout Manitoba. Physical distancing and masks indoors will be required; and
- Workplaces are not required to report positive cases to public health.
The premier said government officials will continue to consult with public health to determine the next phase of relaxing health orders.
Roussin said over the two weeks of the new health orders, officials will continue to view the trends of COVID-19 and Omicron and make a decision on what the next steps are.
"We know the incubation period for Omicron is shorter and so our previous duration of restrictions were based on a much longer incubation period. So we feel the two weeks is going to give us a better picture of where we are at and again consider a path to further loosening of the restrictions."
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