'Step up and do the right thing': New public health orders take effect ahead of Thanksgiving

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The province's top doctor is asking Manitobans to step up when it comes to following the new round of public health orders—especially with Thanksgiving just around the corner.

New public health orders—the majority of which are focused on those who are unvaccinated by choice—went into effect in Manitoba on Tuesday.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said for those who are vaccinated there will be no restrictions on Thanksgiving gatherings—though he said the fundamentals still apply, such as staying home when sick, good hand hygiene, physical distancing and opting for outdoor events over indoors.

"But if gatherings are going to include individuals that are unvaccinated, then those gatherings need to be limited to one other household if it is going to occur indoors," Roussin said.

The new orders limit indoor private gatherings in homes to one household only when there is an unvaccinated person who is eligible to be vaccinated. Outdoor gatherings at homes will be limited to 10 people when someone who is unvaccinated is there.

READ MORE: Unvaccinated Manitobans to face slew of new public health rules ahead of Thanksgiving

Roussin said he understands there is frustration around the new orders.

"We've been at this for over 18 months and so I think there is a lot of fatigue out there, but it is just a matter of alternatives," he said.

"With these restrictions in place, this is really doing whatever we can to avoid overrunning the health-care system so the health-care system is there for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. So it is there for both COVID care and non-COVID care."

Roussin said adherence to the health orders is a concern for public health, especially as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. He said the province is in the fourth wave now, and cases will continue to climb unless Manitobans follow the rules.

"Throughout this entire pandemic, there always is a significant reliance on Manitobans to step up and do the right thing—that doesn't go away here," he said.

"We are really in our fourth wave right now. Numbers will continue to climb unless Manitobans step up, follow these restrictions, and get vaccinated."

He said the province is using outreach in all Manitoba regions and continues to send out messaging around the importance of vaccines. Roussin said there is also enforcement there for people who choose not to follow the orders.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Justice told CTV News in a written statement that almost 3,300 people from different agencies are empowered to enforce the orders.

"I can confirm that enforcement efforts have always focused on areas with high transmission rates," the spokesperson said.

They said the province continues to adjust its strategies and tactics as needed.

PUBLIC HEALTH PLANNING FOR HALLOWEEN

With Halloween less than a month away, Roussin said public health has started looking at what its guidance will be.

"It is going to be, again, sticking with fundamentals. All these things that we've been talking about now for over 18 months," he said.

"We will be having some more guidance as things come and, of course, our epidemiology might look a lot different as we get closer to Halloween, but the fundamentals will remain the same.