New public health orders coming into effect in Manitoba to curb spread of Omicron variant

Monitoba Premier Heather Stefanson speaks to media prior to the reading of the Speech from the Throne at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Tuesday, November 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG – New health restrictions will be coming into effect in Manitoba as the province continues to deal with a surge of the Omicron variant.

Manitoba has had 2,154 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday and the five-day test positivity rate is 19 per cent province wide.

Premier Heather Stefanson, along with Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, announced the restrictions will put limits on gathering sizes and liquor sales throughout the province.

The new orders will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The orders stipulate gathering sizes must not exceed 50 per cent of capacity at a space or 250 people, whichever is smaller.

This will apply to:

• Indoor and outdoor public gatherings;

• Restaurants, licensed premises, food courts and socials;

• Movie theatres and concert halls;

• Performing arts venues and outdoor ticketed performing arts events;

• Museums and art galleries;

• Outdoor and indoor sporting and recreational facilities including dance schools and martial arts studios;

• Gyms, fitness centres, and yoga studios;

• Indoor and outdoor ticketed sporting events;

• Indoor recreational businesses;

• Seasonal facilities and events;

Religious services and Indigenous cultural events; and

• Bingos, casinos and businesses with VLTs.

On top of the gathering limits, it was announced that liquor sales at restaurants and licensed venues must stop at 10 p.m.

The province said these restrictions will impact all locations where people are fully vaccinated, have a medical exemption to not receive the vaccine, and people under 12.

“So again, I want to reiterate here that the whole purpose of having capacity restrictions and reducing capacity size is to ensure there’s distancing between clients. So we’ve heard of reports of different businesses where the overall capacity of their building is at 50 (per cent), but they’re cramming everyone into a single room,” said Roussin.

“This is not the intent of the orders, that’s putting those people, your customers at risk of transmission, the 50 per cent cap is there to ensure the distancing between clients. So please understand the intent of the orders, please do what you can to protect your patrons as well as all Manitobans.”

Roussin also noted the liquor restrictions might change people’s plans going into the new year but they are necessary.

“We’re putting them in place now in the face of Omicron and widespread transmission to try to limit that transmission.”

Roussin reiterated that people to need to limit their contacts as much as possible as it is the best way to prevent the spread of Omicron.

“We need Manitobans to limit contacts with others and only get together with immediate family, really reduce those plans. These orders have now required the reduction in a lot of gatherings that were planned to take place, and we know that’s difficult, especially this time of year, especially second year in a row, but we all need to do our parts to reduce the amount of transmission by reducing the contacts we have. So follow those fundamentals, stay home when you’re sick, go for testing and isolate until you get your test results.”

The restrictions are set to expire on Jan. 11, 2022.

Roussin said the province will continue to review the situation leading up to the restrictions expiring.

“We’re going to be watching in jurisdictions that are ahead of us with Omicron transmission. We’re going to obviously be looking at it in our jurisdiction and so you know, the 11th, we always said are these type of public health orders with that expiry date to ensure Manitobans know we’re always reviewing these and will only have restrictions in place for as long as they’re required. So there’s a number of things we’ll be looking at prior to these expiring.”

Source: CTV news