Manitoba takes next step in 'cautious' reopening
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is taking the next steps in its reopening plans as loosened restrictions will be coming into effect.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, and Premier Brian Pallister made the announcement Tuesday morning, saying the new restrictions will kick in at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 12 and they will be in place for three weeks.
Pallister and Roussin praised Manitobans for the work they have done to make it possible for less strict restrictions.
"We certainly can't let our guard down," said Roussin. "There are lots of reasons to remain very cautious. But the hard work of Manitobans has brought us back to a level of community transmission where we can once again get back to these that we enjoy."
Pallister issued a similar sentiment.
"(It's) a good day, but a day to remind one another that we need to be careful as we start to give people the opportunity to get some freedoms back," said Pallister.
The new orders will include:
- Restaurants and licensed businesses will be allowed to open at 25 per cent and all groups must be from the same household;
- Outdoor sports facilities will be allowed to open for causal sports and organized practices and games, but there can't be multi-team tournaments;
- Gyms, fitness centres, and yoga studios can reopen at 25 per cent capacity;
- Indoor sporting facilities can operate at 25 per cent capacity but only for individual instruction. This includes rinks, gymnastic clubs and martial arts studios;
- Places of worship are allowed to have services at 10 per cent or 50 people, whatever is lower;
- Self-help groups for those dealing with addictions and other behaviours can hold meetings at 25 per cent capacity;
- Museums, art galleries and libraries are allowed to be open at 25 per cent capacity;
- Businesses that provide pedicures, electrolysis, cosmetic application, tanning, tattooing or massage services can have 25 per cent capacity;
- Photographers and videographers are allowed to operate with individual clients or people from the same household as well as take pictures at weddings, but they can't visit clients' homes;
- Weddings are allowed to have 10 people in attendance, in addition to the officiant and photographer; and
- The film industry is allowed to operate fully with proper safety measures in place.
Roussin was asked how restaurants should handle the same household rule and who would face the penalty if that rule isn't followed.
"Since the beginning of our orders, they've always been based on reasonableness and so if you were required right now to take down information on people for contact tracing at these areas, that could involve just simply looking at the address for the contact collection," he said. Roussin added without these rules in place, restaurants might not have been allowed to open.
He also said the responsibility is on the customers as well as the establishment to make sure they are following the rules.
"We've written those orders to have that burden on both the people … we want all Manitobans to share in the importance of this."
With these new orders, Roussin said all regions in Manitoba will now be under the same restrictions as northern Manitoba was under separate orders previously due to high COVID-19 cases.
The Northern Health Region will also now be allowed to have two designated visitors to their homes, outdoor gatherings can include five people plus members of a household, retail stores can have 25 per cent capacity or 250 people maximum with proper health measures, and non-regulated health services, hair salons and barbershops can open at 25 per cent capacity.
The province had asked Manitobans for feedback on the new orders and since Feb. 4 they received 33,000 responses.
From the feedback, 65 per cent of people said they felt somewhat or very comfortable going to restaurants, while 57 per cent felt somewhat or very comfortable going to gyms or yoga studios.
Food services being allowed to reopen was the highest-ranked priority for those who provided feedback.
The changes to the orders can be viewed below.