The Chief Public Health Officer says he understands the disappointment people are feeling knowing in-person faith gatherings are not in the newly-proposed Public Health Order amendments.

Dr. Brent Roussin expressed understanding towards Manitobans hoping for in-person faith gatherings but says the way COVID-19 spreads makes faith gatherings not possible at this time.

"This is not a reflection on the importance of these events or how essential they are to many Manitobans, this is a reflection on the nature of this virus," Roussin says, showing sympathy for those hoping for other news.

Roussin says that he knows there are people who are disappointed that faith gatherings were not slated to be allowed to happen but says they will continue to loosen restrictions in the future if COVID-19 numbers continue to decline in Manitoba. 

The doctor says that the more enclosed, prolonged indoor gatherings there are, the more COVID-19 transmission there will be. Drive-in services continue to be allowed.

"Despite everyone's best efforts, the more we gather, the more interactions we have, we are going to see that virus being transmitted."

Roussin says slow, cautious reopenings will make it easier to avoid closing facilities again.

Churches can continue to provide social services in person.

"I think we should be hopeful in Manitoba," the doctor says, noting the actions of Manitobans have made it possible to loosen restrictions. He says this, along with a vaccine, gives Manitobans confidence that an end to the pandemic is coming.

"The alternative is something we cannot accept," saying that the healthcare system needs to be available to all Manitobans. "We have already lost too many Manitobans. We cannot afford to continue the trajectory we had in October and November."

The proposed new orders would last for three weeks, starting this weekend.