Tighter COVID-19 restrictions affecting many businesses in the greater Winnipeg region will be announced as early as Friday because some people are ignoring health guidelines and case numbers continue to rise, Manitoba’s chief public health officer says.
“We have multiple examples of people just not following the fundamentals and not following the rules as well,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday.
“We just have multiple examples that we’ve lost track of the fundamentals.”
The province reported a record-high 173 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, most of them in the Winnipeg area. Manitoba’s per-capita number of active cases is higher than any other province except Quebec.
The percentage of people testing positive has also jumped sharply in recent days — to 4.9 per cent provincewide and 5.8 per cent in Winnipeg.
Roussin said people are going to family gatherings, bars, restaurants and work while having symptoms.
Using a chart, he pointed to the case of one symptomatic person in September who went to social gatherings. That person led to 243 contacts who had to self-isolate, 40 of which became infected, he said.
Winnipeg is already under tighter restrictions than other areas of the province due to numbers that spiked in late summer. Gatherings are capped at 10 people and mask use is mandatory in indoor public areas.
More recently, bars and other licensed establishments have had to stop serving liquor at 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m.
On Thursday, the province imposed new restrictions on licensed personal care homes in the greater Winnipeg area that will require new admissions to be isolated for 14 days. Homes that are experiencing outbreaks will not be allowed to admit new residents unless they are already COVID-positive.
Roussin said he is preparing additional measures, which could be announced Friday and take effect early next week. While avoiding specifics, he hinted at widespread rules to limit close public interaction, likely in areas such as restaurants, bars and gyms.
“I would say expect widespread capacity limitations across multiple sectors.”
Community sports could also see limits on the number of participants and spectators, he added.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the 10-person gathering limit could be reduced.
“Perhaps tomorrow we will see some change in terms of the numbers of people that are being asked to gather,” Friesen said.
“If you were thinking about getting together with a bigger group, maybe it’s time to just focus on the few people who are in your bubble.”
Premier Brian Pallister urged people to follow guidelines and wash their hands, limit interactions with people outside their household and wear masks. He pointed to the summer, when case numbers were low.
“When some of us forgot about those fundamentals, we stopped doing really well.”
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