Manitoba is introducing a sweeping vaccine mandate that will restrict restaurants, fitness centres, theatres and ticketed sporting events, starting Sept. 3, to only people who show proof of vaccination.
The province will also reinstate its mask mandate in all indoor public places as of Saturday, Dr. Brent Roussin announced on Friday.
Manitoba punched a hole in its vaccine card earlier this month when it scrapped the immunization requirement for indoor restaurant dining with non-household members, among other events and activities.
But now Manitoba is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination in more places than ever before, as the province responds to the threat posed by the looming fourth wave of the pandemic.
“The emergence of the delta variant has changed things significantly. Now public health officials tell us the pandemic is one of the unimmunized,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at the news briefing.
More than 406,000 Manitobans have not been vaccinated, including nearly 230,000 children who are not eligible, she said.
“We need to do everything we can to protect them from COVID-19, especially as they return to school,” Gordon said.
The new vaccine mandate will impact restaurant patrons both indoors and outdoors. This is a stronger restriction than earlier in the summer, when no proof of vaccination was required for patio access or seating with household members.
As well, indoor and outdoor ticketed sporting events and concerts are now exclusive to the fully vaccinated, along with movie theatres, casinos, bingo halls, VLT lounges, nightclubs and all other licensed premises. Patrons wanting to visit an indoor theatre, dance and symphony events must show immunization, too.
In a new change, proof of vaccination is also required to visit fitness centres, gyms and indoor sporting and recreational facilities, except for youth recreational sports.
Children 11 and younger can attend events limited to fully vaccinated people if they are with an adult who is fully immunized.
The impacted businesses, services and events will have no capacity limits as a result of limiting access to the fully vaccinated, health officials said.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon said she’s encouraged by the 76.2 per cent of eligible Manitobans who are fully vaccinated and the 81.7 per cent who have received at least one dose, but higher rates are needed to beat back against the pandemic.
As announced earlier this week, the province will also require most provincial health-care employees, teachers and child-care workers to be fully vaccinated, or undergo testing up to three times a week.
On Wednesday, the province reported more than 100 cases in a single day for the first time since June.
Pandemic modelling released this week suggests Manitoba’s intensive care units could be overwhelmed within weeks if no health measures are put in place to control the spread.
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