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B.C. hardly alone in ramping up restrictions to battle pandemic

Multiple provinces reinstate COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge in certain areas
Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, puts on her protective mask after releasing details about a COVID-19 vaccination card that will be needed by anyone wanting to eat in restaurants, visit theatres or go to other events. She made the announcement at a news conference at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Some provinces were doubling down Tuesday with mask and vaccination requirements in an effort to bring down rising COVID-19 cases.

British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba all reintroduced mandatory face coverings in some settings.

Quebec announced an indoor mask mandate for elementary and high school students across nine regions of the province, including Montreal. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said the rise of the Delta variant is forcing the cautious approach.

“It’s not ideal,” Roberge said. It’s not what we wanted at the beginning of the school year, but we have to take note of the situation, take note of what’s happening elsewhere in the world and the rise of the Delta variant.”

As for vaccines, Manitoba announced that all front-line provincial employees who work with vulnerable populations will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October.

“We need to get to higher ground to avoid the tsunami,” Premier Brian Pallister said.

Workers affected include doctors, nurses, teachers, early childhood teachers and prison guards. Government employees, including members of the legislature, will also be required to have their shots.

The province also said it is bringing back a mask mandate for all indoor public places, including schools.

Starting Wednesday, B.C. is bringing back a public health order requiring people to wear masks in all indoor public spaces — including malls, grocery stores and on transit — to try to curb the spread of infections fuelled primarily by the Delta variant.

The order also includes students in Grade 4 and up who will soon be returning to classrooms. Face coverings will be encouraged for younger children.

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the order is to be reassessed in mid-October when the province plans to have fully implemented a proof of vaccination card for anyone wanting to eat in restaurants, visit theatres or go to other events.

In Ontario, the Toronto Police Service said all its uniformed and civilian members will need to be fully vaccinated and staff will be required to provide proof by mid-September.

New Brunswick followed the lead of some other provinces by expanding eligibility for shots to children who are turning 12 this year.

And, with case numbers rising, Nova Scotia premier-designate Tim Houston said New Brunswickers who aren’t fully vaccinated will be treated like travellers from outside the Atlantic region and must isolate upon entering his province.

“We expect this to impact a very small number of people,” Houston said of the measure beginning Wednesday.

A vaccine tracker created by a University of Saskatchewan student shows Canada has reached a milestone of 75 per cent of those eligible now fully vaccinated. It says 83 per cent have had at least one dose.

—Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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