Another round of health order changes was announced by the Manitoba government Wednesday - but this time, there's modest progress.
For the first time in weeks, health orders in Manitoba have been eased, now allowing for small gatherings outdoors on private and public property. As of June 12 at 12:01 a.m., Manitobans will be able to have gatherings of up to five people in public spaces, along with five people from no more than two other households on private property. The new orders will stay in effect until June 26.
All other health orders will remain in effect, including restrictions on business capacity and operation, indoor gatherings on private and public property, outdoor and indoor recreation and workplaces.
"As our test numbers and test positivity rates start to drop, our vaccine rates have continued to rise - however, we still have significant demands on our health care system, so we're not in a position to open everything at once but we are in a position to slowly ease some of our restrictions," said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief provincial public health officer in a June 9 press conference.
"We know that these last few weeks have been especially tough, that the last many months have been tough but these last few weeks where we haven't been able to gather with anyone outside our household, those have been tough. We're now able to loosen some restrictions regarding outdoor gatherings. We know we still need to continue to follow fundamentals, that we're getting vaccinated as soon as possible, that we're continuing to get that second dose and to do whatever we can to ease that pressure on our acute care system."
Physical distancing and masks are still being recommended by health officials, including for non-household meetings in outdoor settings.
Shared Health chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said lower recent COVID-19 case counts have provided some good news for Manitoba's COVID-19 situation, but health care facilities province-wide are still highly strained.
"The recent lower case counts provide some reassurance, as well as some light at the end of the tunnel for our system," said Siragusa.
"Manitoba's health care facilities continue to face extreme pressure throughout this third wave, with a high number of new patients arriving to our hospitals daily for in-patient care, sometimes intensive care services. Our focus remains on meeting the needs of our COVID-19 patients, with many services having to be reduced or scaled back as a result. Our goal is to get through the worst of this third wave and support the many very ill patients who require our services, then slowly resume the other services that are currently decreased or on hold."
The restrictions that were changed came as a result of another set of online surveys held on the province's engagemb.ca website. According to the province, about 93 per cent of people who took part in the most recent round of surveys said being able to meet with friends and family outdoors on private property would improve their lives, while 85 per cent said the same about gatherings on public property.
New travel restrictions will be drafted later this week to allow Manitobans who have had two vaccine doses to travel outside the province and not need to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival at home.
The province also announced that Kindergarten-Grade 12 schools in remote learning in Winnipeg, Brandon and in the Red River Valley and Garden Valley school divisions will stay in remote learning until the end of the school year, while schools in Morden and Dauphin will stay in remote learning until June 21. The province made no mention of the Flin Flon School Division, which is currently in remote learning and will remain so until at least June 14.
Manitoba's hospitalization rate and intensive care admissions due to COVID-19 remain high - while the province had 72 ICU beds before COVID-19, 67 Manitobans are now in ICU due to COVID-19, with another 30 Manitobans in intensive care due to COVID-19 outside the province. A total of 293 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Manitoba.
The province reported another 250 new cases of COVID-19 June 9, including 18 cases in the Northern Health Region (NHR), which includes three new cases in the Flin Flon/Snow Lake/Cranberry Portage/Sherridon health district and another eight cases in The Pas/OCN/Kelsey district. The district covering The Pas now has the most active cases of any NHR district, with 60 cases active as of June 9. There are 18 active cases in the district covering Flin Flon as of June 9.
|Cases by northern district (Manitoba)||active cases||recoveries||deaths||total cases|
|Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/Gods River/Gods Lake||20||470||6||496|
|Churchill (covered by Winnipeg Regional Health Authority)||0||1||0||1|
|Flin Flon/Snow Lake/Cranberry Portage/Sherridon||18||219||3||240|
|Grand Rapids/Misipawistik/Moose Lake/Mosakahiken/Easterville/Chemawawin||17||647||7||671|
|Lynn Lake/Marcel Colomb/Leaf Rapids/O-Pipon-Na-Piwin/Granville Lake||1||341||3||345|
|Sayisi Dene/Tadoule/Barren Lands/Brochet/Northlands/Lac Brochet||10||29||1||40|
|Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake||17||496||2||515|
|Case totals as of June 9||262||7161||53||7476|