Manitoba is expanding the vaccine passport benefit for fully immunized individuals that will enable businesses, services and events to be available without capacity limits or public health restrictions as of Sept. 3, Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.
“The emergence of the delta variant has changed things significantly. Now, public health officials tell us the pandemic is one of the unimmunized and we must take these extra steps to protect the nearly 230,000 children who are not yet eligible for immunization,” said Gordon. “Manitoba’s vaccine passport benefit will help encourage greater vaccine uptake, which is necessary to protect our health-care system from the COVID-19 fourth wave.”
Gordon also announced the new public health order requiring mask use in all indoor public spaces across the province will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 28.
The province has developed new requirements for people to be fully immunized to participate in certain events and activities. These requirements will come into effect by public health order on Sept. 3 for all health regions and will include:
• indoor and outdoor ticketed sporting events and concerts;
• indoor theatre/dance/symphony events;
• restaurants (indoor and patio dining);
• nightclubs and all other licensed premises;
• casinos, bingo halls and VLT lounges;
• movie theatres;
• fitness centres, gyms and indoor sporting and recreational facilities (excluding youth recreational sport); and
• organized indoor group recreational classes and activities, and indoor recreational businesses.
Children 11 and under who are not eligible to be immunized will be able to attend events and activities with a fully immunized adult.
“Unless immediate and strong measures are taken, the fourth COVID-19 wave would likely lead to another round of business restrictions or closures. Such a scenario would be absolutely devastating to business and our community. The Winnipeg Chamber supports today’s actions to avert the human and economic turmoil being seen in other provinces,” said Loren Remillard, president and chief executive officer, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. “We will continue to work with our members to ensure they have the tools they need to support the province’s public health orders.”
The minister noted these new public health orders complement the mandatory vaccination steps taken earlier this week requiring all designated provincial public service workers who have ongoing contact with vulnerable populations, especially children, to be fully immunized. These individuals will need to receive their first dose by Sept. 7 and their second dose by Oct. 17 to be fully immunized by Oct. 31.
Designated employees who are not fully immunized or cannot provide proof of vaccination will need to undergo regular COVID-19 testing, up to three times a week for full-time employees, and provide proof of a negative test result before they can resume working.
“As the restaurant industry continues to put the health and safety of Manitobans as their top priority, we recognize the latest changes as a short-term measure that models a proactive approach to eliminate the requirement for more permanent restrictions that would cause further detriment to an industry that has faced monumental challenges over the last 16 months,” said Shaun Jeffrey, executive director and chief executive officer, Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said these public health orders will reduce the need for more stringent public health restrictions and lockdowns that would otherwise be necessary to combat the COVID-19 fourth wave and protect the province’s hospital and critical care capacities.
“Ensuring that people are fully immunized before attending higher-risk events, activities and services will help reduce community spread of the virus,” said Roussin. “Already, we are seeing more of the newly identified cases are in people who have not yet been immunized, and we need to take these steps to protect them, others in their communities and the health-care system from the effects of the delta variant.”
Manitoba released new COVID-19 case numbers today that show unvaccinated individuals are accounting for a significant proportion of all new cases. Of the 31 new cases identified today, 26 were in individuals who were unvaccinated. In the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, 13 of the 14 cases identified today were in individuals who were unvaccinated.
As of today, 76.2 per cent of Manitobans age 12 and up have received two doses of vaccine, and 81.7 per cent have received at least one dose.
Roussin again noted that public health officials recommend that private businesses and organizations follow the province’s lead and consider mandating COVID-19 vaccination for their employees to protect their customers and staff, and to reduce the chance of an outbreak at their workplaces.
For more information on how to book a vaccine appointment, visit www.protectmb.ca/.