Casino closures and group size limits among new restrictions coming to Winnipeg next week
Downtown Winnipeg. (Source: CTV News/Mason DePatie)
WINNIPEG -- In an effort to curb rising COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg, the province’s top doctor has ordered more targeted restrictions, including reduced group sizes and the closure of casinos.
On Friday, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, announced new restrictions in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region will take effect on Monday, Oct. 19.
“We need to make this change – this sacrifice for two weeks,” Roussin said, adding Winnipeg needs to cut down on close contacts and community spread.
“We’ve done the change before and we can do it again, and make difference in the outcomes in a relatively short order.”
These new restrictions include:
- Gathering sizes are being reduced to five people both inside and outside for both public and private gatherings. This does not include household members for private gatherings inside the home.
- Beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls will be closed.
- Restaurants and lounges will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity with two metre distancing and table sizes no larger than five people.
- Retail businesses will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity but must adhere to the five-person group size limit in food courts and common areas
- Sporting events and after-school activities must reduce the number of spectators by 25 per cent of a site’s capacity.
- Museums, galleries, and libraries must reduce capacity by 50 per cent, and must collect contact information for all attendees.
- Gyms and Fitness centres must collect contact information for all attendees. Those going to a gym or fitness centre must wear a mask unless they are doing physical activity.
The restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks. Manitoba’s Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the province will reassess the restrictions after the two weeks.
Roussin said health officials need to see case counts and the test positivity rate stop climbing and make sure there is no increased demand on the health care system before reducing the restrictions.
“At two weeks we are going to need to either extend them or draw back – so we want to make it really clear that the intent of this is strictly time-limited.”
The province said these new restrictions are in addition to the current restrictions in place for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, including the mandatory mask use in all indoor public spaces, and reduced liquor service hours and noise restrictions at licensed facilities.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has been under the orange or restricted level on the province’s pandemic response system since Sept. 28.
“These restrictions will all be enforceable under the law,” Roussin said. “We’ve issued fines in the past when required and we will be looking at ways of stepping up enforcing efforts in the coming weeks.”
‘THESE NUMBERS SHOW WE HAVE LOST OUR WAY’
On Friday, Manitoba reported 75 new COVID-19 cases, 63 of which are in Winnipeg. This brings the total number of active cases in Winnipeg to 1,354.
Roussin said the test-positivity rate in Winnipeg is now at 6.3 per cent.
Since March, there have been 3,098 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba and 38 deaths.
“These numbers show we have lost our way,” Roussin said. “We know that is not all of us. We know a lot of businesses, a lot of Manitobans, have stepped up right from the beginning and continue to, but we know these numbers affect us all.”
He said Manitobans should not need an order or restrictions in place to change behaviours.
“We can act right now – right now today all Manitobans can protect themselves and the people around them,” he said, adding people need to stay home when they are sick or even mildly ill.
“We know that has contributed significantly to the case numbers that we see right now – is people not staying home when they are ill. That means people are going out gathering with friends, going to parties while ill, we’ve seen people going to work while ill.”
Roussin said Manitobans need to get back to the fundamentals which include reducing close contacts with people outside your home, washing your hands, following physical distancing when outside your home, and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible.