December 17, 2021 — News Flash
Dr. Brent Roussin held a late afternoon press conference today to announce new public health orders. We are sending a rapid summary based on the presentation, and we expect the official wording will be posted soon at on the government’s website.
Dr. Roussin and Health Minister Audrey Gordon explained the orders are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 while more Manitobans get their booster shots, while also recognizing hospital capacity is limited.
The new restrictions in Manitoba will take effect Monday night. The restrictions include limits on private and public gatherings, including for vaccinated individuals:
- Private indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people in addition to the household, assuming everyone age 12 and up is fully-vaccinated. If anyone age 12 and older is not fully vaccinated, the limit is 5 people in addition to the household.
- Public indoor gatherings will be reduced to 25 people or 25% occupancy, whichever is lower.
- Outdoor gatherings drop to 50 people or 50% capacity without proof of vaccination.
Businesses and public places also will see restrictions re-introduced:
- Public indoor events, such as professional sports, can continue to require proof of vaccination, but capacity will be reduced to 50%.
- Gyms, movie theatres, licensed venues, museums and libraries are reduced to 50% capacity, with proof of vaccination requirements remaining.
- Restaurant dining will be limited to 10 people per table and patrons must be seated. Proof of vaccination requirements continue.
- Faith-based gatherings will be limited to 50% capacity with proof of vaccination. Otherwise, capacity will be limited to 25 people or 25% capacity whatever is lower.
- Indoor and outdoor sports will not be allowed to hold any tournaments. Games and practices are still allowed, but spectator capacity will be limited to 50% with proof of vaccination requirements continuing.
These restrictions will be in place until January 11, and will be reviewed and updated as needed.
“For the first time since we’ve had wide-spread vaccines, we are imposing restrictions even on the fully-vaccinated,” said Dr. Roussin. “This is really because vaccine effectiveness against Omicron is reduced. There is still that benefit to being vaccinated especially against severe outcomes, and that benefit is increased with that third dose.” He acknowledged that “it’s absolutely frustrating to be here again for all Manitobans.”
Manitoba announced 239 new cases today, the highest number in six months. Meanwhile, many other jurisdictions are reporting record-breaking single days numbers today, fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. So far, Manitoba has only identified eight cases of the Omicron variant, though it is taking over as the dominant variant in Ontario and other jurisdictions.
Other provinces today announced new restrictions today too, using a range of approaches targeting major events, restaurant capacity and social gatherings.
At the federal level, the government has re-introduced PCR testing for all arriving passengers, including Canadians returning within 72 hours from trips abroad. It also discontinued the travel ban on 10 African countries started last month prompted by the early signs of Omicron. With the new variant of concern now circulating and dominating in so many countries, targeted travel bans could no longer be justified. Today’s changes builds on a travel advisory issued earlier this week, discouraging non-essential travel outside of Canada.
Manitobans are being strongly encouraged to get booster shots as soon as they are eligible. Generally, this is six months after the second dose. Earlier boosters are strongly recommended for some groups, including for people who are age 60+ as well as individuals age 18+ living in a First Nation community. Full eligibility is posted on ManitobaVaccine.ca.
While the recommendation for most is six months after the second dose, Manitoba Health advised providers yesterday to not turn anyone away if they are close to the six-month mark:
- The recommended interval for most individuals aged 18 to ≤ 59 years of age remains 6 months following second dose. However, we do not want individuals who are close to 6 months post second dose to be turned away. Please be advised that individuals aged 18 to ≤ 59 years of age may be given a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine anytime beginning 5 months following their second dose. If an individual presents prior to 5 months following their second dose, they should be advised to return once a minimum of 5 months have elapsed.
We are also maintaining a map with clinics offering public appointments on our Vaccine Finder. The government is encouraging people to try a doctor’s office or pharmacy for their booster, as super sites are very booked up. If you require additional doses, please email email@example.com to make your request.