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Manitoba advocates 'greater freedoms' and 'fewer restrictions' as province surpasses first vaccination milestone

The 4-3-2-One Great Summer Reopening Path sets out a 'clear path' for more openings and fewer restrictions as vaccination levels rise throughout the summer.

Alex Anas Ahmed Calgary AB

Manitoba residents are bracing for relaxed COVID-19 restrictions ahead of Canada Day as its government surpassed its first vaccination milestone.

With 71.2 and 25.4 percent of the population receiving their first and second dose - surpassing the first milestone ten days ahead of initial projections - residents anticipate more openings and fewer restrictions.

“Summer is coming, and vaccines are here,” said Premier Brian Pallister. “Our ‘4-3-2-One Great Summer’ Reopening Path rewards Manitobans with greater freedoms and fewer restrictions on our lives and the economy as more and more of us get vaccinated.”

The 4-3-2-One Great Summer Reopening Path sets out a 'clear path' for more openings and fewer restrictions as vaccination levels rise throughout the summer. It focuses on the four reopening categories Manitobans value most, three summer holiday milestones for phasing out COVID-19 restrictions, and the two public health responsibilities Manitobans must continue to follow to ensure the province can reopen and stay open.

These include:

  • four reopening categories – gathering and socializing, travel and tourism, shopping and services, and dining out and entertainment;
  • three-holiday milestones – Canada Day, August Long Weekend and Labour Day; and
  • two public health responsibilities – getting vaccinated and following public health orders that lower the risk of COVID-19.

According to the province, the key to reopening safely is Manitoba's collective progress in getting vaccinated and reducing COVID-19 spread in communities and hospitals. Each holiday milestone for reopening will have a one-dose and two-dose immunization goal to guide progress in keeping Manitobans safe.

Each milestone holiday weekend will have a one-dose and two-dose immunization goal:

  • Canada Day - Over 70% of all Manitobans aged 12 and older have received their first dose, and over 25% have received their second doses. Businesses, services and facilities can open at 25% capacity or greater levels.
  • August Long Weekend - 75% or greater of all Manitobans aged 12 and over have received their first dose, and over 50% have received their second dose. Businesses, services and facilities can open at 50% capacity or greater.
  • Labour Day - 80% or greater of all Manitobans aged 12 and over have received their first dose, and over 75% have received their second dose. Businesses, services and facilities can open with limited restrictions.

Having recently received his second dose in Winnipeg, Pallister said he is proud to do his part to protect his family, colleagues and his community from COVID-19. "The sooner all eligible Manitobans are vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to doing some of the things we love and miss," he said.

Manitoba's government is striving for greater vaccine uptake and hopes that equipping Manitobans with the information and support they need will help those on the fence make the 'right decision' to protect themselves. To incentivize immunization, the Manitoba Vaccination Lottery provides nearly $2 million in cash and scholarships, as well as the ProtectMB Community Outreach and Incentive Grants to those who receive the vaccine.

"We all have a role to play in this fight against COVID-19, and I encourage all eligible Manitobans to get their first vaccine dose as soon as possible and to book their second-dose appointment as soon as they are eligible," said Pallister.

The age demographic with the lowest vaccine coverage are youth age 12-19, with a vaccination rate of 41.8 percent. The region with the least per capita vaccinations is to the south at 52.5 percent, where the province is most densely populated.

As of June 21, the province administered 1,156,966 vaccinations, which acting Health and Seniors Care Minister Kelvin Goertzen attributes to the work of Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force, who provided Manitobans with timely access to immunizations.

The minister noted that Manitoba has consistently been in the top three provinces regarding per capita doses administered in recent weeks. Since the first dose of vaccine was given on December 16, hundreds of thousands of people have received their first or second doses at the initial pilot location, super sites, pop-up clinics, medical clinics or pharmacies, urban Indigenous clinics, or the support of a focused immunization team.

The province continues to implement new vaccine distribution plans to reach people who might face barriers, including Indigenous residents, to ensure the vaccine is readily available to everyone who wants to receive it.

Indigenous Manitobans have had 111,865 total doses administered, with a greater degree of those on-reserve immunized with one and two doses than off-reserve. On-reserve, 76.4 percent received one dose, and 48.5 percent are completely immunized. Off-reserve, 55.4 percent received one dose, and 26.2 percent are completely immunized.

“This reopening path aligns with public health advice on phasing out restrictions as more Manitobans get vaccinated,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “This path to reopening businesses, services and facilities and our ability to gather with each other rely on Manitobans getting that second dose while continuing to follow the public health orders, and I encourage everyone to book their first and second doses as soon as possible.”

“The more of us who get vaccinated, the faster we can regain our freedoms and enjoy what we’ve lost this past year and a half,” said Pallister. “There are two ways to reopen safely – getting vaccinated as soon as you are able and continuing to follow the public health orders.”

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