The divide between those who have the jab and those who can’t starts hitting close to home in Manitoba as new COVID-19 rules target gatherings involving unconnected people.
The new public health order, which takes effect Tuesday, October 5, means some families will have to decide between a large Thanksgiving dinner with a fully vaccinated group or a smaller turkey dinner with an unvaccinated guest.
Luckily, Gerald McMillan won’t have to make that call because everyone on his guest list already has two shots.
“Everybody is double vaccinated, everyone is raring to go,” he said.
Ken Dufault, who is hosting Thanksgiving at the cabin, said he was not planning to meet with unvaccinated guests, regardless of what the province says. He and his wife have been participating only in programs where vaccination is required.
“People who haven’t been vaccinated know they’re not going to attend any sort of event at our place,” he said.
Dufault said he had not received any pushback from the people he interacted with.
However, Megan Delmonte is terrified of an uncomfortable conversation.
Although she would like to see all her friends and family sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, she understands that some people will not listen to her and it is not in her personality to exclude people from social gatherings.
“It’s tough,” Delmonte said. “You get stuck in the middle.”
Her boyfriend, Adrian Dijon, said he doesn’t want anyone to “feel small.”
Under the new rules, indoor gatherings will be limited to guests of each other’s house when a non-vaccinated person who is eligible for shots is on the property.
Outdoors will also be limited to 10 guests when an ineligible person is present.
Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said, “It will be very challenging to implement, it will be challenging for friends and family to have conversations like this.”
Carr isn’t convinced that everyone will be eager to follow orders.
“I am challenged to believe that people will abide by these rules,” she said.
“If there are reasons why people are not vaccinated, which include mistrust of the government, not believing the virus to be real, not understanding the risks involved – then it would be challenging for me to think that that group of people would then a) Would be open to talks of disclosing their vaccine status, or b) really worry too much about it.”
Carr said it is unfortunate that the new restrictions are being implemented at a time when vaccines are widely available, but all available strategies need to be considered to contain the fourth wave.