Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer says while Manitobans may feel more confident after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, activities like going to the beach with friends remain off-limits for the time being.

This past weekend images of Manitoba's sandy shores being packed circulated online. Manitobans flocked to beaches and other water facilities after the province eased the health orders to allow those without air conditioning a chance to beat the heat. 

"The outdoor gathering, that is lower risk to others, and I think that we definitely encourage people to be outdoors for this last sort of circuit break. We really wanted people to maintain those close contacts with the household only, but we are hoping that within a short period of time in the outdoor settings we can extend that slightly.

While the Public Health Orders limit outdoor gatherings to households only, these orders were not always followed. Roussin says there will be an enforcement update, as scheduled, Tuesday but would not provide further details.

The doctor says while people may feel more confident after receiving their first vaccine, the health orders are still in effect. The doctor says vaccines will make a difference in the loosening of restrictions. 

"We really want to discourage Manitobans from getting that first dose and feeling now that sense of invincibility and feeling now you do not need to follow the orders."

He says they have seen people admitted to the hospital who were exposed to COVID within the first couple of weeks of getting the vaccine.


New orders and reopening plans

Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer says the province is starting to see hope for the near future, but will not say when that post-pandemic life will begin, as healthcare facilities continue to be pushed well past its capacity, sending dozens out of the province for intensive care.

He says Manitoba is not currently in a position to significantly loosen restrictions. The current health orders expire on June 12.

When asked about reopenings this weekend, Roussin says "we alluded to earlier that the outdoor settings are less risky so we can consider something like that."

As case counts drop, Roussin is preparing a reopening strategy, set to be shared in the near future. He says they are looking at ways to make being fully vaccinated count.

"As more and more Manitobans get vaccinated we are going be able to loosen those orders for everyone and we may even start being able to target certain things for fully vaccinated people."

In the reopening plan, Roussin says lifting travel restrictions on fully vaccinated people are "very much under consideration."

Roussin would not say much about what Manitobans could expect but did say those who are fully vaccinated could start to see some privileges as vaccines rise. Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Joss Reimer previously spoke on the likelihood of fully vaccinated Manitobans being able to access "privileges" for a short while.

Roussin is hoping there will not be a need to restrict activities and events to only vaccinated people, which he says would be an issue.

"If we get as many Manitobans fully vaccinated as soon as possible then we don't necessarily have to concern ourselves with this type of vaccine passport idea with it. There is a lot at play with that."

Roussin says there is no specific number of cases or people needing healthcare that will signal loosened restrictions. 

The province is set to reach 70 per cent of all Manitobans with their first dose by the end of June. Second doses are currently open to people who received their first vaccine on or before May 1.