New restrictions before May long weekend will limit outdoor gatherings in Manitoba

WINNIPEG — Another round of restrictions are being put in place this weekend as Manitoba continues to try to lower the COVID-19 case count.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said the new orders will take effect on May 22 at 12:01 a.m.

These measures will include:

  • No gatherings outdoors with people from a different household, including at recreation areas, golf courses, and parks. Contacts are to be limited to households only; and
  • Only one person per household will be allowed to go into a business, with exceptions such as caregivers helping those they’re caring for.

Roussin said for those who live by themselves, an exception is still in place that they can gather with one other person.

The new measures will be in place until May 26.

He added COVID-19 cases in Manitoba need to drop and Manitobans need to follow these orders being put in place.

“Three weeks ago we announced additional changes to the public health orders to help slow the transmission of this virus. Two weeks ago we announced further restrictions again trying to reduce that spread, and last week we issued even more stringent orders to try to slow the transmission of this virus,” said Roussin.

“Manitoba’s public health orders have been and continue to be some of the most stringent nationwide, however, we’ve continued to see our case numbers climb.”

Roussin said the province is at a critical stage.

“Our focus should be to limit our contact outside our household, so going out for essential reasons only. That’s not social visits. It would be to purchase essential (items) and then again, back home. Staying home as much as possible.”

Roussin said during this third wave, there continues to be community transmission with the majority happening in private residences.

“A lot of transmission and social gatherings, and then some workplace clusters as well.”

The top doctor added that a stay-at-home order wasn’t needed for these restrictions as there isn’t much for people to do outside of their homes and the message continues to be stay at home.

As the ICU cases continue to climb throughout the province, which has resulted in some patients being moved to Thunder Bay, Ont, to help with the capacity levels, Roussin said this is why these new restrictions are so important.

“I think that seeing these numbers that we have now, seeing the obvious strain in the ICU. I think Manitobans are going to get to see how important it is to be staying home and limit their contracts.”

Heather Stefanson, the minister for Health and Seniors Care, said new positions are being added to help deal with the ICU numbers.

“We’ve added 60 new full-time nursing positions,” said Stefanson, “We’re continuing to train more nurses for the ICU, and we’ll continue to ensure also, we’re focusing on patient flow to ensure that people are moving through our hospital system.”

Roussin said hospital numbers lag behind the daily case counts and with cases staying high, the hospital rates could continue to climb as well.

“So modelling shows again that trend that we’re going to see over the next couple of weeks, increasing numbers into the ICU,” said Roussin.

“There’s been a lot of work on increasing capacity and continuing to increase that in the hospitals, but it’s just really paramount for Manitobans to realize that we need to end these transmission chains, right now.” 

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he is frustrated with the government’s latest restrictions.

“Once again, we as Manitobans are being asked to step up and make further sacrifices and yet I don’t see the government matching that with the action that is needed, which is getting urgent support for our health-care system,” said Kinew.

Kinew said this government needs to ask other provinces for health-care professionals that can be put into ICUs in Manitoba.

“To be frank, when the government takes advantage of the good nature of Manitobans who want to abide by the restrictions, and takes advantage by failing to act, by bolstering our health-care system, that government action undermines public health.”

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