WINNIPEG — New public health orders coming into effect next week will target mostly unvaccinated Manitobans.
The province is moving to restricted (orange) on the Pandemic Response System, while new orders will begin on Tuesday, October 5.
Retail capacity in the Southern Health region will be reduced to 50 percent to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the region. Southern Health, and particularly the RM of Stanley, has the lowest vaccination rate in the province at 24 percent as of September 28.
Elsewhere, all outdoor public gathering sizes will be reduced to 50 people province-wide.
Other updated orders include:
- Limiting households to guests from one other household for private indoor gatherings when any unvaccinated person who is eligible to be vaccinated is on the property
- Limiting households to 10 guests outdoors, when any unvaccinated person who is eligible to be vaccinated is on the property
- Reducing indoor public gathering group sizes to 25 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower, for gatherings that include unvaccinated people who are eligible to be vaccinated, including weddings and funerals (effective October 12)
- Reducing indoor group sizes for faith-based gatherings to 25 people or 33 percent capacity, whichever is greater, for gatherings that include unvaccinated people who are eligible to be vaccinated
“Our data shows that vaccination works, as the vast majority of hospitalizations and ICU admissions are in people who are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “But nearly 400,000 Manitobans are either unable or unwilling to get vaccinated and our health-care system remains at risk from the delta variant of COVID-19 with case numbers and hospitalizations rising. Today’s announcements are the consequences of that reality.”
The province already requires people to show proof of vaccination to attend a range of venues, including sporting events, concert halls and restaurants.
When asked how the province plans to enforce the new rules and check on who is attending house parties and Thanksgiving dinners, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the government will work with municipalities.
She also said she hopes more people get their shots rather than risk facing fines.
“What I hope is that Manitobans will see the urgency of getting vaccinated and doing the right thing and they themselves will say … ‘we are going to honour and adhere to those restrictions,'” she said.
Gordon also pointed to a provincial tip line that people can call to report rule-breakers.
The mayor of Winkler, a city where 41 per cent of eligible people have had at least one vaccine dose, said the new rules are divisive and will not be effective.
“It pits neighbour against neighbour … and people are becoming angry with their neighbours, which is totally unhealthy,” Martin Harder said.
“Positive information from the right sources … dealing with the issue of the dangers of the virus, I think, would do an awful lot more than putting the punishment in.”
— With files from The Canadian Press