- Audrey Gordon says she will not hesitate to impose stricter pandemic limitations on Manitobans in the case of a virus.
- The government has opted not to impose another near-lockdown, as it has in previous pandemics.
Audrey Gordon says she won’t hesitate to put stricter pandemic restrictions on Manitobans if the new wave of public health measures fails to reduce the increasing infection rate.
The health minister is optimistic that the new limitations announced last Friday, which target religious groups and youth sports, will be sufficient.
If it isn’t, Gordon will go in front of the cameras to announce more stringent restrictions.
“If the rise [in COVID-19 cases] continues, I could be out next week making improvements,” she stated on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.
Although Manitoba has become a hotspot for COVID-19 infections in Canada, the government has avoided implementing another near-lockdown, as it has done in previous pandemic waves.
The province announced fresh pandemic measures on Friday, focusing on youth sports, hospital capacity, and a small number of unvaccinated churchgoers.
Beginning Dec. 6, adolescents aged 12 to 17 will be required to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 regularly if they participate in indoor sports.
COVID instances are increasing at the quickest rate in the under-20 age group, according to provincial data.
In addition, several forthcoming surgeries in Winnipeg will be cancelled to free up intensive care beds, and religious gathering laws in southern Manitoba that do not check vaccination status will be tightened.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, Dr Brent Roussin, said at a news conference on Friday that these steps are about as far as the province can go before it needs to start restricting the activities of vaccinated persons.
Gordon, on the other hand, believes it will inhibit the spread of COVID-19.
“I am confident that they will,” she stated. “They’re designed to reduce the number of people that congregate,” which is “when we find COVID transmission.”
Southern Health, which has the highest infection rate and the lowest vaccination uptake, uses this logic to limit attendance at houses of worship.
Drive-ins are happy that churches are moving online.
Unless the venue can segregate attendees into separate rooms in groups of 25 or less — and those cohorts aren’t allowed to interact — services in the region will be limited to 25 people. As a result, the capacity of those venues will be limited to 25%.
In the aftermath of last Friday’s announcement, Gordon said she’s encouraged to see some churches convert to drive-in or online services.
“They’re already taking steps to address our worries about large groups of people congregating indoors for extended periods,” she said.
Faith-based institutions, according to one Winkler faith community, have been singled out by the new rules.
In an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live, Larry Reimer, pastor at Cornerstone Vineyard Church, remarked, “It feels kind of isolated at times to have religious gatherings focused on.”
The limit on gathering sizes “creates a lot of dissatisfaction for people, particularly when the gathering is one of the very important aspects of being a part of a community, especially a spiritual community.”
The increased collecting limitations will not affect municipalities in southern Manitoba near Winnipeg and have a similar immunisation rate.
Winkler does not qualify for an exemption since its first-dose immunisation rate was only 44.8 per cent as of Friday.
Some community members seek Reimer’s advice on whether or not to roll up their sleeves because he is double vaccinated. However, he doesn’t try to persuade anyone to be vaccinated.
“I explain my narrative, I share how I processed, how I traversed that trip, and I leave it up to the individual to make their own decision,” Reimer added.
“Those kinds of circumstances, in my opinion, are far more profitable. They provide better results than when people are forced to do something, “he stated
Reimer also works as a chaplain at Boundary Trails Health Centre, a hospital outside of Winkler, where he counsels COVID-19 patients who have chosen to or have not chosen to be vaccinated.
Source: CBC News
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