Here's what you need to know about Manitoba's latest pandemic rules
Indoor mask mandate starts Saturday, while other restrictions will kick in Sept. 3
People in Manitoba will soon need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to go to a concert, eat at a restaurant, go see a movie and more.
Face masks are also now required in all indoor public spaces across the province.
The changes are part of Manitoba's latest public health orders announced Friday.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said the measures were a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 — and lower the chance that even stricter rules will be needed down the road.
Here's what else you need to know:
The first part of the new rules to take effect is that face masks are now required in all indoor public spaces across the province, including schools.
The one exception is people actively participating in sports or exercise.
But a few more changes are also on the horizon.
Starting next week, a long list of businesses, services and events will only be available to people who can prove they've been fully vaccinated.
And Manitobans working in certain jobs with vulnerable populations will be required to get immunized by mid-October or undergo regular COVID-19 testing.
When does it start?
The mask mandate started on Aug. 28, while vaccine requirements for certain events and businesses will take effect on Sept. 3.
For those who work places that now require vaccination, which includes schools, the deadline to be fully immunized is Oct. 17.
To be eligible for a second dose in time, they'll need to get a first dose by Sept. 7 — the first day of classes.
What can I do with my vaccine card?
The list of activities and services only open to fully vaccinated people in Manitoba just got a lot longer.
Starting Sept. 3, here's what it will include:
- Indoor and outdoor ticketed sporting events and concerts.
- Indoor theatre/dance/symphony events.
- Restaurants (whether inside or on the patio).
- 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 — though adults in attendance will still need to be vaccinated).
- Organized indoor group recreational classes and activities
- Indoor recreational businesses.
Who has to get vaccinated?
Health-care workers, teachers and people working in jails will be among those required to either get fully vaccinated by Oct. 17 or be regularly tested for COVID-19.
The new vaccine mandate will apply to all provincial employees working with vulnerable populations — especially kids.
That list includes:
- Direct health-care providers and workers (including physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, support service staff and others).
- Educational workers (including teachers, practicum students, bus drivers and support or custodial staff).
- Child-care workers (including staff and practicum students working in licensed early learning and child care facilities).
- Public servants and funded-agency employees in high-risk settings with direct, ongoing contact with the public or clients (including those in congregate or residential settings or group homes, those who work with kids and those who have to enter clients' homes or regularly visit places with vaccine mandates as part of their job).
- Manitoba Justice employees who work with vulnerable people and in correctional facilities.
People in other workplaces aren't required to get immunized, but the government is recommending that private businesses and organizations bring in vaccine mandates of their own to reduce the chance of an outbreak.
More details are available on the province's website.
What if I'm not vaccinated?
People who work in places with vaccine mandates but can't prove they've been vaccinated will have to be tested for COVID-19 and provide a negative result.
For full-time employees, that could happen as often as three times a week.
The details of exactly how and where that testing will be done are still being worked out, Roussin said on Friday.
What can I use as proof of vaccination?
One of the acceptable ways to prove you've been fully vaccinated is Manitoba's immunization card, which you can register for once it's been two weeks since your second vaccine dose.
To do that, you need to create an account on the province's website and enter the required information, which includes your name, birth date, six-digit health card registration number and nine-digit personal health information number.
You can get a digital card instantly and request to get a physical card mailed to you later.
You can also get a secure printed provincial immunization record from public health or Shared Health's online portal that shows your immunization dates.
The new rules are coming in response to the threat posed by the more contagious delta variant.
Earlier this week, the province released modelling that suggested Manitoba's intensive care units could become overwhelmed during a fourth wave of COVID-19 if more people don't get vaccinated.
And with more than 406,000 Manitobans not yet vaccinated — including nearly 230,000 kids — officials said the province is trying to prevent that from happening.
Some sites, such as places of worship, aren't included in Manitoba's latest vaccine mandate. And while certain regions have much lower vaccination rates than others, the new restrictions will apply equally across the province.
But Roussin said public health is going to continue looking at other options down the road.
And unlike some of Manitoba's previous public health orders, the latest rules don't come with an end date. They'll stay in place until public health officials decide to revoke them, Roussin said.