Under Manitoba’s latest COVID-19 public health regulations, masks will once again be required in all indoor venues, and government staff working with vulnerable people must be properly vaccinated — or face monthly testing — or face regular testing.
At a news conference on Tuesday morning, Premier Brian Pallister revealed the modifications to Manitoba’s COVID-19 guidelines.
“Vaccines are our defense against the fourth wave, our defense against future lockdowns, and vaccines are how we reclaim our lives,” Pallister stated.
“Vaccines are our safest and only way out of this pandemic.”
Pallister said workers affected will include health-care providers, teachers, early-learning providers, prison guards and all government employees, including members of the legislature.
They will have to be fully immunized by Oct. 31 or undergo regular COVID-19 tests, up to three times a week for full-time employees.
Proof of a negative test result will be required before the employees are allowed to resume working.
The returning mask mandate — which was lifted at the beginning of August — will require masks be worn in schools, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said.
The province had previously said masks wouldn’t be mandatory in classrooms, although all Winnipeg school divisions have said face coverings would be required when school returns.
The province is also expanding the list of facilities, events, and services that will require those attending to be fully-vaccinated under the new orders. Pallister said details on that measure would be coming Thursday or Friday.
Roussin said word on exactly when the new health orders will go into effect will also come later this week.
Roussin said the stronger orders are needed to guard against the more contagious Delta variant.
“By requiring people working with vulnerable populations to get immunized, wear masks and expand the use of vaccine passports, we can protect those most at risk of COVID-19 and avoid lockdown measures that affect everybody,” said Roussin in a provincial release.
On Monday Doctors Manitoba has called on the province to make vaccination mandatory for health-care workers.
When asked about the organization’s call Monday, Roussin said he recommends that everyone in the province get a vaccination, especially those working with vulnerable people and patients.
On Tuesday Roussin said private businesses and organizations should follow the province’s lead on mandating vaccinations to keep their employees and customers safe.
Health officials are also set to release COVID-19 modelling later in the day that will look at how the Delta variant is expected to affect the province.
Ontario announced last week that strict vaccination and testing policies will be required for hospitals and home-care providers, among other health-care settings.
Quebec took it a step further, requiring all health-care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Manitoba has been holding back a fourth pandemic wave that is emerging in other areas of Canada, despite significantly loosening public health restrictions nearly a month ago.
The number of daily cases has been modest, and the five-day test positivity rate in the province stands at 2.3 percent.
On Monday, Manitoba saw 27 new cases, with the majority (15 infections) occurring in the Southern Health district, where immunization rates are lower than the rest of the province.
More than 81 percent of Manitobans who are eligible for vaccination have received their first dosage, and 75.5 percent are fully vaccinated.
Source_ The Canadian Press