Manitoba closes on-site food service, bars and gyms under new public health orders

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The toughest public health restrictions since the peak of Wave 2 were imposed on Manitobans in an unprecedented press conference Friday night.


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Dr Brent Roussin, the province’s chief provincial public health administrator – attached to court all day due to a court challenge against previous restrictions put in place – has tightened the grip again, shutting down restaurants in-person meals, closing gyms and fitness centers, lounges and other personal services, and banning faith-based gatherings.

The restrictions, spurred by a vicious onslaught of new cases, skyrocketing test positivity rates and a growing burden on the healthcare system, will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday and will last until May 30.

“We need to act now,” Roussin said. “I know Manitobans have done it before and we’ve been doing it for 14 months now, but we need to continue our efforts to bring those numbers down.

Earlier today, public health officials announced 502 new cases of the virus, the highest since the peak of the second wave, when 546 cases were announced on November 23.

For the first time in months, Lanette Siragusa, Chief Nurse at Shared Health, spoke to the media, as hospitals began to relocate health workers to meet growing needs, especially in healthcare services intensive.


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As of Sunday, the province admitted 10 new COVID-19 patients to intensive care, the highest single-day admission rate during the pandemic. Every day since, that number has hovered around six or seven new admissions, she said.

There were 56 people in intensive care on Friday, the highest number reported in a single day during the pandemic, surpassing the 55 who were in intensive care on two days in November.

“The latter part of this week we have seen a dramatic increase in cases and this is translating into a dramatic increase in the number of intensive care,” Roussin said. “We need to take these strong steps now to protect our health care system, to protect Manitobans.

“Everyone has that role to play right now. Anyone today can reduce the number of contacts they have outside of their home.


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Outdoor gatherings in public places are limited to a maximum of five people, up from 10 in the previous iteration of orders. Friday’s revised ordinances are the third new set of restrictions put in place by the government in the past three weeks.

Restaurants, bars and patios will close in-person meals, but will still be able to offer take-out and delivery services, while gyms and fitness centers will have to close completely.

Retail can remain open, but only up to 10% of its capacity, including in malls, markets and garden centers.

VLTs must close, as do museums, galleries and libraries.

Confessional gatherings are prohibited, as well as any indoor community or cultural gathering.

Personal services, such as beauticians, barbers, salons and tanning salons, must close, as well as indoor sports and recreation and extracurricular activities.


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Other areas of impact include dance, theater and music schools, all of which are scheduled to close. Day camps are prohibited.

Mutual aid gatherings are limited to a capacity of 10 people.

Roussin said the orders are tailored to where they see transmission, but widespread community transmission means it flows throughout the community.

“So we just need to be able to limit where people can gather at this time,” he said.

Roussin said that the commands alone cannot cover all the permutations of everyday life. He said Manitobans have a responsibility to reduce their close contact.

Roussin also spoke of hope on the horizon with the distribution of vaccines.

Earlier this week, the vaccination implementation indicated that all roads lead to May 21, meaning all Manitobans ages 12 and older could make their first dose appointment by that time. dated. Appointments for the second dose are scheduled to start on May 22.


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As of Friday, 534,647 doses have been injected into guns across the province, representing 41.6% of the currently eligible population aged 18 and over.

“This time we see that hope,” Roussin said. “We are seeing a summer of high vaccine updates and low numbers of COVIDs. “

Why not act sooner?

Criticism of the province has escalated in recent days as numbers have risen and questions have focused on why the province did not act sooner to thwart Wave 3.

Roussin said on Friday they had and continued to put restrictions in place, citing the previous two times in the past two weeks before Friday’s announcement.

“We saw the numbers increase, we responded,” he said. “We had to step up this now. “


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What about assurances Manitobans won’t have to endure another night like Friday?

“Well, I think if you look at these orders, they go pretty far,” Roussin said. “They are clearing up indicating that we need a change and that we need to reduce the contact we have.”

Roussin added that he believes these orders are escalated enough that they see Manitobans’ behaviors change in terms of interactions.

What about schools?

One notable omission from the new public health ordinances concerned everything to do with schools in the province.

Despite the worsening situation and teachers and other school staff still not having priority for vaccinations, schools will remain open for the time being.

“This is something that we are actively looking at right now, and we are going to have something in that regard in the near future,” Roussin said.

Roussin said they have made the final decision to move schools to distance learning, but will provide more information soon.

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Twitter: @scottbilleck

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