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Manitoba expands COVID-19 restrictions amid third wave

limits to gathering sizes indoor and outdoor, reducing capacity at faith-based and cultural gatherings, wedding and funerals, and reducing capacity at retail locations and malls.

The Manitoba government is expanding public health orders meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect the province’s health-care system amid rising daily case counts and increases in the number of variants of concern being reported across the province.

The additional public health order restrictions will go into effect in two phases, starting Tuesday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Monday.

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“Despite our best collective efforts and having some of the strictest measures in the country, COVID-19 cases and particularly variants of concern are on the rise,” said Pallister in a government release.

“Introducing more restrictive measures is not what many of us want to hear right now, but it’s what we need to do to protect Manitobans and our health-care system. It is our goal that by acting quickly now, we can slow the speed of the third wave avoid a return to full shutdown in many sectors throughout our province.”

The first phase of restrictions go into effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., and include:

  • all households may only have two designated visitors indoors;
  • outdoor gatherings on public and private property limited to a maximum of 10 people including household members;
  • faith-based gatherings limited to 25 per cent capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower, with indoor masks orders in place except while household groups are seated at a service, are appropriately distanced from other groups and are not singing; and
  • weddings and funerals reduced to 10 people, in addition to an officiant and photographer.

The following additional public health order restriction will be in effect on Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Retail stores must be limited to one-third the capacity of the store or up to 333 patrons, whichever is lower and malls will be limited to 33 per cent of the facility’s capacity.

Changes to the orders are in effect until Wednesday, May 12, the province said.

Under current rules capacity at retail stores has been capped at 50 per cent and the number of people allowed to gather for weddings, funerals and outdoor public gatherings has been capped at 25.

The province also cut the minimum age for getting the AstraZeneca vaccination to 40 Monday, and dropped the age eligibility for those able to get vaccinated at super sites and pop-up vaccination clinics to include those 54 or older and First Nation people aged 34 and older.

Manitoba’s rapid testing program has also been expanded to provide asymptomatic testing at partnering businesses and the critical services sector.

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Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin said the stricter restrictions are needed as vaccination efforts continue and the province sees more cases of variants of concern.

“We’ve been here, in this place before. We’ve been here in October and November, and we saw where that could get us,” said Roussin.

“We’re now dealing with a virus that transmits even easier and is even more severe, requiring more hospital admissions, more ICU admissions.”

In a release sent out later in the day Monday Manitoba’s Health Minister said the amended public health orders will also allow personal care home staff who’ve received at least one shot of vaccine to work at multiple homes as early as two weeks after getting their first dose.

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Most personal care home workers have been limited to working at a single site since last May, when the government issued an emergency order in an effort to stop outbreaks at personal care homes.

Non-vaccinated staff will still be required to work at only one home under the changes, the province said.

No new deaths Monday

Manitoba health officials announced 108 new COVID-19 infections Monday.

The majority of the new cases come from Winnipeg, where 63 new infections were reported. Another 18 cases were reported in the Southern Health region, 10 cases were reported in the Prairie Mountain Health region, five come from the Northern Health region, and 12 were identified in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.

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There were no new deaths reported Monday.

Manitoba has now recorded 36,267 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March 2020 and the number of Manitobans with the virus who have died remains at 959.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5.7 per cent both provincially and in Winnipeg and 1,686 cases remain active across the province.

There are now 132 people in hospital as a result of novel coronavirus and 30 patients in ICU connected to the virus, according to provincial data.

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A new outbreak has been declared at the Dauphin Personal Care Home in Dauphin.

Laboratory testing numbers show 2,491 tests were completed Sunday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 624,868.

According to a provincial online database keeping track of variants of concern, Manitoba has reported 711 cases of variants, 213 of which remain active. 

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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