Restrictions eased, but not eliminated

The province announced the most significant changes to the pandemic restrictions today. We have received several calls and emails today, so we are sending you a summary with guidance for your practice.

Below you will find a summary of the changes in Manitoba along with a comparison of restrictions for all provinces. We discuss the impact on physician practices, and invite you to share your views.

Today, 22 new cases of COVID-19 were announced with the test positivity rate at 2.6% provincially and 1.9% in Winnipeg. While case counts remain low, there are still 95 patients in hospital with COVID-19 including 19 in ICU. Overall ICU capacity continues to be strained and surgery capacity is not back to 100%.

Summary of New Restrictions

With the current public health orders set to expire this weekend, Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin announced today a further loosening of restrictions that will take effect this Saturday, August 7 at 12:01am.

With cases continuing to decline and vaccination rates increasing, several changes are being made ahead of schedule. Manitoba was due to loosen restrictions on the Labour Day long weekend, but the vaccination targets for that date should be met later this week. Over 80% of Manitobans have received at least one dose, and 71.4% have received their second dose, just below the 75% target. 

Restrictions Eliminated in Some Sectors

Some areas will no longer have restrictions in place, but instead recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. No occupancy or group size limits will be in place for the following areas:

  • indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences
  • gyms and fitness centres
  • libraries
  • personal services such as hair and nail salons
  • day camps
  • retail businesses, markets, garden centres and malls.

Restrictions Continued in Other Sectors

Restrictions will continue, as is or with some modifications, in other sectors.


  • Weddings and funerals will be limited indoors to 50 people or 50% capacity (whichever is greater), up from 25 people, and limited outdoors to 1,500 people or 50% capacity (whichever is less), up from 150, with no dancing permitted
  • Religious and cultural gatherings continue to be limited indoors to 150 people or 50% capacity (whichever is greater), and limited outdoors to 1,500 people or 50% capacity (whichever is less), up from 150

Restaurants and Other Services:

  • Restaurants and bars will no longer have capacity limits, but patrons should remain seated and no dancing or socializing between tables will be permitted
  • Museums, galleries and movie theatres will remain limited to 50 per cent capacity but will no longer be restricted to vaccinated individuals
  • Indoor and outdoor sports and recreation will fully reopen with limits only on spectator capacity;
  • overnight camps will be permitted with limits on camper cohorts;
  • workplaces must continue to report cases to government for followup and public health-confirmed transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace may result in workplaces being ordered to close for a minimum of 10 days; and
  • remote working will no longer be required or recommended by public health and workplaces will be encouraged to transition from COVID-19 safety plans to a general communicable disease prevention plan.

Fully Vaccinated Privileges

  • Professional sporting events, including Blue Bomber games, can continue to operate at 100% capacity but only welcome fully vaccinated individuals
  • Casinos, bingo halls and horse/​auto racing venues can now open to 100% capacity, up from 50%, but only for fully vaccinated individuals
  • Concert halls can now open to 100% capacity, up from 50%, but only for fully vaccinated individuals 

You can read the government’s news release on the easing of restrictions HERE and find today’s COVID-19 bulletin HERE.

Public Health Recommendations

Dr. Roussin stressed that the changes today reflects a gradual shift from public health restrictions to recommendations, which is the approach used for other communicable diseases. Recommendations and advice are made by public health routinely, and often independently from elected government officials, while restrictions must be approved by the government’s cabinet as a public health order.

While no longer required in an order, public health recommendations have not changed when it comes to masks, physical distancing and other precautions. With the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in Manitoba and globally, and the significant extra risk posed by the more contagious Delta variant, public health officials strongly recommend:

  • wearing masks in indoor public spaces for everyone who is not fully immunized including children under 12; and
  • maintaining physical distancing of two metres (six feet) in indoor settings.

Physicians can reinforce this advice with daily patient interactions, along with continuing to advise patients to get vaccinated as soon as possible. In fact, with fewer restrictions in place, physicians’ advice to their patients is now more important than ever.

Dr. Roussin also stressed that restrictions could be reintroduced if there is a need, even on a regional basis.

Restrictions in Other Provinces

Pandemic restrictions vary by province, and Manitoba’s new restrictions appear to be middle-of-the-road. We have composed a summary based on a rapid scan we completed today of each province’s restrictions. Most provinces have linked their reopening plans to vaccination rates and monitoring other COVID-19 indicators. Manitoba’s fully vaccinated rate appears to lead all provinces at this point.

Province Masks Traveller Isolation Private Gatherings Public Gatherings Restaurants Retail Gyms/​Fitness Last Updated
BC Not Required No No limit Inside: 50 or 50%; Outside: 5000 or 50% No limit, but no mingling/​dancing No limit No limit Jul 1
AB Not Required No No limit No limit No limit No limit No limit Jul 1
SK Not required No No limit No limit No limit No limit No limit Jul 11
MB Not required Yes, for unvaccinated No limit Inside: 50 or 50%; Outside: 1,500 or 50% No limit, but no mingling/​dancing No limit No limit Aug 7
ON Required in many settings No Inside: 25; Outside: 100 Inside: 25; Outside: 100 No limit, other than 6‑feet between tables No limit, other than social distancing 50% capacity Jul 16
QC Required in many settings No Inside: 10; Outside: 25 Inside: 250; Outside: 500 Limit of 10 per table, no dancing No limit, other than 3‑ft social distancing No limit, other than social distancing Jul 12
NS Required in many settings Yes, for unvaccinated Inside: 25; Outside: 50 Inside: 150; Outside: 250 No limit, other than 6‑feet between tables No limit, other than social distancing No limit, other than social distancing Jul 14
NB Not required No No limit No limit No limit No limit No limit Jul 30
PE Not required Yes, for unvaccinated Inside: 50; Outside: 50 Inside: 100; Outside: 200 Limited to 100 patrons No limit, other than social distancing Open Jul 18
NL Not required Yes, for unvaccinated No limit Inside: 350; Outside: 500 No limit, other than 6‑feet between tables No limit Limited to 50 people Aug 1

In the United States, a summer surge in cases is occurring. This has been called the pandemic of the unvaccinated, as outbreaks primarily spread in populations with lower vaccination rates. This can even include communities with higher rates that still have a large concentrated population of unvaccinated people. Cases are now increasing in all 50 states. 

The surge, fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant, has resulted in the CDC reversing its advice on masks for the fully vaccinated. After advising fully vaccinated individuals that they could stop wearing masks indoors, the CDC now recommends everyone, including the fully vaccinated, wear masks indoors in public places in areas with substantial or high transmission. The CDC defines substantial transmission as 50 – 100 cases per 100,000 residents over seven days, and high transmission as more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over seven days. The rate across the US is 140.4 for the last seven days, and is highest in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. 

In Manitoba, the rate over the last seven days is 17 cases per 100,000 people.

Impact on Physician Practices

The changes announced today do not prohibit any business or office from requiring masks and taking other precautions. 

In fact, doctors’ offices should continue with the following precautions at this time:

  • Physical distancing should be maintained in common areas such as waiting rooms
  • Masks should be required for patients
  • PPE requirements do not change for physicians and clinic staff.
Physicians are strongly encouraged to return to the provision of all services, including routine immunizations and preventive health visits. Virtual care should continue to be used as needed to reduce traffic into clinics.

Shared Health will be issuing new guidelines soon for primary care and outpatient settings. We shared the views we received from physicians with Shared Health as part of their review of the existing guidelines. Guidance will also continue to be in place for hospitals and personal care homes. 

We are also hosting a webinar later this month which will cover precautions in medical practices, requiring vaccination for your staff, and accommodating staff who are unvaccinated. Join our panel of medical and legal experts for this webinar on August 17!

Registration Details
When: Tuesday, August 17 at 6:30 pm
Register: Register in advance online

What do you think?

The changes announced today are the largest single step to easing restrictions during the pandemic. We understand this is raising questions among physicians, and we want to hear what you think and what you are concerned about.

Please complete our brief snap poll here to share your views.
We will continue to share physician’s views and concerns with provincial officials.

In the days ahead, it will be important to continue to be respectful to colleagues and patients and be mindful of the tone taken in public dialogue. Everyone will have an opinion about the changes, and we have heard from physicians and members of the public today with varying views. During this pandemic, we’ve heard from physicians concerned restrictions are too loose and risking spread and illness, and we’ve also heard from physicians concerned the restrictions are too tough or concerned about the harm they are causing to Manitobans health and well-being. 

In your interactions with patients, please consider reinforcing public health’s advice about masks, physical distancing and vaccination. It is also helpful to remind the public that hospital capacity, including our ICUs, continue to be stretched and there is still a growing backlog of surgeries too.

Vaccine Update

Doctors Manitoba is continuing our advocacy on increasing vaccine uptake in a number of ways, based on the strong consensus among physicians about the importance of this topic. These activities include:

  • Our President, Dr. Kristjan Thompson, advocating for required vaccination among health care workers in a recent letter to Health Minister Health Stefanson
  • Starting a new public campaign tomorrow to reach the unvaccinated, building on the strong trust the public has in physicians
  • Continuing to advocate for a strong role for physicians in the ongoing vaccination rollout, including potential future booster shots

The CMA and the Canadian Nurses Association joined together today to call for a mandatory vaccination among health care workers. You can read their full statement here.

As always, please continue to share your ideas, tips and concerns about vaccine uptake by emailing us at covid19@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca.

To view previous updates, click here.