Manitoba is moving from red to orange on the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response system.
The change takes effect starting Saturday, deputy chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Jazz Atwal announced Friday.
“Manitobans need to continue to follow the fundamentals,” including masks and social distancing, said Atwal.
He noted the move from level red to orange does not mean that restrictions will be lessened more.
Manitoba first unveiled its four-level pandemic response plan on Aug. 19, 2020, with green, yellow, orange and red levels, based mostly on how much the virus was transmitting in communities.
Winnipeg was moved to level red, along with strict lockdowns, on Oct. 30 as the second wave moved into Manitoba.
The rest of the province joined Winnipeg two weeks later on Nov. 12, where it has remained.
The move to orange comes the same day new public health orders loosening restrictions come into effect across the province.
The latest public health orders were posted on the province’s website earlier in the day Friday.
Under the new rules restaurants and bars will be limited to 25 per cent capacity indoors and 50 per cent on patios.
Hair salons, gyms and sports will be allowed to open, but with capacity restrictions. Hair and nail salons, as well as barber shops, will also be available by appointment only.
Outdoor gatherings on private property will be capped at 10 people and groups in public areas will be limited to 25. The number of worshippers at faith services will also be capped.
Manitoba saw a delayed third wave of the pandemic that brought significant infections and hospitalizations last month. Public-health orders were put in place to curb the surge.
Those numbers have been steadily dropping over the last week, prompting the province to begin loosening restrictions on Saturday — a week earlier than anticipated in its reopening plan.
Manitoba’s three-step approach calls for public health orders to be loosened if first and second-dose vaccination rates are met by certain summer holidays.
Starting Friday all Manitobans who have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can book a second shot appointment as soon as they become eligible. At last word Thursday just shy of 72 per cent of Manitobans had received one shot of vaccine, and nearly 31 per cent had received two doses.
The next step of Manitoba’s plan, if vaccination rates are met, is to begin Aug. 2.
Manitoba reported 104 new cases and two more deaths linked to the virus Thursday. There were 212 Manitobans hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Thursday morning, including 12 patients in intensive-care units in other provinces.
More to come.
–With files from The Canadian Press and Elisha Dacey
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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