New poll finds strong support for Winnipeg’s code red restrictions

WINNIPEG — A strong majority of Manitobans are supportive of new restrictions in the Winnipeg region to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the results of an online survey conducted by Probe Research.

The findings also show more than half of respondents think the restrictions don’t go far enough.

Seventy-seven per cent of Winnipeggers surveyed said they “strongly support” the decision to move the Winnipeg region into critical, or red, on the province’s colour-coded pandemic response system. Among rural and northern Manitobans surveyed, 76 per cent strongly supported the move to critical.

Fifty-four per cent of people said the current restrictions are not strict enough for the current COVID-19 conditions. Only 10 per cent said they are too excessive.

More than half of respondents supported moving other regions to code red, with 60 per cent of Winnipeg respondents and 51 percent of rural and northern respondents favouring tighter restrictions outside the capital region.

The survey found women and people from Winnipeg were more likely to support tougher restrictions.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents said they’re confident the new restrictions will reduce the spread of COVID-19. Only 30 per cent have confidence hospitals have enough capacity to care for patients.

ARE MANITOBANS DOING THEIR PART?

Probe Research asked Manitobans whether they believe others are following public health measures and whether the province was prepared for the second wave.

It found that 87 per cent of Manitoba adults think that too many residents aren’t taking the measures they should, such as social distancing and wearing a masks, with 82 per cent saying Manitoba should have been better prepared for the second wave.

To help get the pandemic under control, 83 per cent of respondents said they’d be willing to stay at home and take part in a lockdown for a few weeks.

As for whether the Manitoba economy could even afford another lockdown, 58 per cent of Manitobans believe it could, while 42 per cent don’t think the economy could handle it.

Probe’s results show that Manitobans are taking the pandemic more seriously now than they did back at the beginning.

A March 2020 poll found that 36 per cent of Manitobans thought the pandemic was overblown, but now that number is cut in half, and only 18 per cent of people think it is overblown.

The survey also asked respondents how seriously they are taking restrictions, with 65 per cent saying they carefully follow all public health recommendations all the time, and 29 per cent saying they generally follow the recommendations, but make some exceptions here and there. Only two per cent said they follow recommendations only in certain circumstances, three per cent said they only follow them when they have to, and less than one per cent said they don’t follow recommendations at all.  

Probe conducted the poll between Oct.31 and Nov.3. A total of 800 people were surveyed. Probe said because it’s an online survey no margin of error can be ascribed, however, for comparison a non-probabilistic sample of the same size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

DOCTORS PUSH FOR TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS

Meantime, some doctors continue to push for tighter restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19. In a letter dated Nov. 3 sent to the chief provincial public health officer and the health minister, a group of 11 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases and epidemiology say more action is needed.

“We are convinced that more drastic measures are required to reduce personal contacts,” the letter reads. “These measures must remain until the rate of community spread falls dramatically so that our testing and contact tracing capacity is sufficient to control outbreaks.”

The doctors suggest:

  • extending virtual learning by keeping kindergarten and elementary students in class but suspending in-class instruction for secondary and post-secondary students;
  • shutting down non-essential retail and service businesses;
  • imposing a 14-day self-isolation requirement on all out-of-province visitors and travellers;
  • implementing stringent occupancy limits for essential retail and service businesses, including grocery stores;
  • stopping all public indoor gatherings of any kind; and
  • limiting gatherings to household members only.

“Although we are aware that there will be negative financial, social and mental health consequences arising from these measures we are convinced that ignoring them will very likely result in a much more severe and protracted lock down and a greater number of preventable deaths,” the letter said.

“Premier Pallister defended his new set of restrictions and announced more strict enforcement and the possibility of a curfew. While we applaud these measures, we remain deeply concerned.”

The doctors said in the letter their intention is not to undermine those entrusted to carry the province through the pandemic but stressed they remain concerned about hospital and ICU capacity. 

-With files from CTV’s Kayla Rosen.

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