Manitoba is introducing additional public-health restrictions in anticipation of gatherings over the long weekend, Premier Brian Pallister announced Thursday morning.

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Manitoba is introducing additional public-health restrictions in anticipation of gatherings over the long weekend, Premier Brian Pallister announced Thursday morning.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin will detail new orders specific to the weekend at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon to address gatherings as well as staying at home.

"We’re social people and we like to get together and we’ve been suffering through this pandemic because we can’t get together for a long time," Pallister told a morning news conference. "But we need to suffer a little bit longer so we can turn this curve like we’ve done before."

Pallister did not provide further details about the measures.

“We’re social people and we like to get together and we’ve been suffering through this pandemic because we can’t get together for a long time. But we need to suffer a little bit longer so we can turn this curve like we’ve done before.” –Premier Brian Pallister

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An onslaught of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care has pushed Manitoba's critical-care system beyond its limits. Two intensive-care patients with COVID-19 were transferred to Thunder Bay Tuesday, followed by a third Wednesday.

During a four-day period ending Monday, Manitoba ICUs admitted 34 COVID-19 patients. The pre-pandemic critical care capacity was 72 beds.

A spokesperson for Shared Health said Wednesday that more patient transfers are being considered as "an interim measure while we work to increase staffing and build critical-care capacity."

"I think we're in the darkest days of this time with this pandemic," Pallister said Thursday. "Clearly, case numbers are very, very high, and unsustainably high. I think it's important to understand that we are availing ourselves of every tactic and technique we can possibly use given the limitations of the resources that are always a real factor."

Pallister said there is quite a bit more capacity in northwest Ontario hospitals for Manitobans, if needed.

The premier said next week the province will be announcing a vaccination incentive program.

"Going forward, Manitobans have a choice, and you have an important choice to make," Pallister said. "I respect the fact that each of you has to make that choice, but I also know that we’re all in this together; that you’re not alone in your decision and the consequences of it."

Pallister said achieving 75 per cent vaccination coverage in Manitoba will not be enough to provide protection to all Manitobans.

"I think we must aim higher," Pallister said. "The higher percentage of vaccinations we can achieve, the sooner we can get through this third wave."

The premier appealed to Manitobans who may be on the fence about getting vaccinated and have not yet booked an appointment.

"Do it so you can see family and friends, do it so you can have dinner and a movie, do it so you can see family and friends, do it so you can go to church," he said. "Do it for your own reasons, but do it for others, as well."

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
Reporter

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.