WINNIPEG — Manitoba is implementing tougher public health restrictions a week before Christmas as COVID-19 cases soar.
Effective Tuesday, December 21 at 12:01 a.m., private indoor gatherings will be reduced to the household plus 10 guests if everyone is vaccinated. For anyone who is unvaccinated, the limit is the household plus five guests. Children 12 and under are exempt in both cases.
The new restrictions also include:
- Indoor and outdoor sporting and recreation capacity is reduced to 50 percent for spectators, while games and practices can continue no tournaments will be permitted
- Large group gatherings will be limited to 50 percent capacity with proof of immunization
- Gyms, movie theatres, museums and libraries are limited to 50 percent capacity with proof of immunization required everywhere except librarie
- Restaurants and licensed premises are limited to 50 percent capacity and seated service only with a maximum of 10 people per table and proof of immunization require
- Faith-based gatherings are limited to 50 percent capacity with proof of vaccination, or 25 percent capacity or a total of 25 people, whichever is lower, when proof of vaccination is not required
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, and Health Minister Audrey Gordon made the announcement late Friday afternoon.
Roussin said the new restrictions come ahead of impending community transmission with the Omicron variant.
He said it is frustrating to have to tell Manitobans ahead of the holiday season to significantly decrease the number of people they will be in contact with.
“We had an extremely disappointing holiday season last year and this one is disappointing as well.”
Roussin said it wasn’t “realistic” to ask Manitobans, including unvaccinated people, to go without a holiday season again. Instead, he said, the government came up with restrictions that allow people to gather in a safer way.
The new health orders will last for three weeks, expiring on January 11, 2022.
Also on Friday, the province announced First Nations schools will be some of the first to receive free COVID-19 rapid-testing kits.
The tests will be available to students in kindergarten to Grade 6 at 57 schools on First Nations, as well as six schools in the north.
The department of central services said the province has secured 110,000 individual tests from the federal government with another 110,000 expected to arrive soon.
The kits are being made available to communities on a voluntary basis and will be distributed through the schools.
Watch Friday’s news conference:
— With files from The Canadian Press