Manitoba set to lift remaining public health orders, restrictions Tuesday
Masks will continue to be required for all individuals entering a health-care facility
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the province will lift its remaining public health orders and restrictions starting on March 15.
Manitoba Health reminded Manitobans that mask requirements in public places will end at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15, in a news release sent by Health Minister Audrey Gordon Monday.
However, masks will continue to be required for all individuals entering a health-care facility, including visitors.
Masks will no longer be required for staff or students in schools and child-care facilities. Physical distancing requirements and cohorts are also no longer required in these settings.
Individuals may continue to choose to wear a mask in various settings based on their preference, personal risk or other reasons, the province said in the release.
Premier will wear mask
Though orders have been lifted, public health will continue to monitor positive cases and severe outcomes related to COVID-19 and will provide updated information to Manitobans.
Additionally, on March 15, public health orders restricting travel to northern Manitoba will end, individual case investigations involving COVID-19 will cease and the province will no longer generate key codes for the federal COVID Alert app.
"We will continue to provide public health recommendations and guidance on COVID-19, but now Manitobans are empowered to make their own decisions about what is right for themselves and their families," said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, in the news release.
Public health will also no longer require those who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate, and recommends that Manitobans with symptoms or who have tested positive for COVID-19 self-isolate for five days, and avoid non-essential visits with higher-risk individuals or settings for 10 days.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said during a news conference Monday that she will continue to wear masks after March 15.
"I know that probably going to the grocery store, I'm going to wear my mask," she said.
Stefanson has grown accustomed to wearing masks, as many Manitobans have over the course of the pandemic, and it is their right to do so, she said.
"Masks have played a very significant role in helping to reduce [COVID-19] spread," said Cynthia Carr, epidemiologist with EPI Research Inc., in an interview with CBC's Information Radio on Monday.
Carr says that while health restrictions are dropping, Manitobans should remain vigilant. She referenced the U.K., which ended all COVID-19 health restrictions three weeks ago, and whose COVID-19 case rate has since doubled.
Carr says everyone should continue their "duty of care" to one another, regardless of public health restrictions, and cautions those planning to travel over spring break to consider the case rates of their destinations.
"We've been in good places before, and we've had escalations, so we still really need to keep our eye on the ball here."