Manitoba to remain under Code Red, making minor changes to restrictions
WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government announced that the province will stay at the Code Red or critical level on the province’s pandemic response system due to rising cases of COVID-19 variants of concern in Manitoba.
Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday, noting that the province will be making minor changes to public health orders starting on March 26 at 12:01 a.m.
These changes include:
- Increasing gathering limits at outdoor public places to 25 people;
- Increasing gatherings limits at weddings and funerals to 25 people;
- Maintaining capacity limits at retail stores at 50 per cent, but expanding in-store limits to a 500-person capacity, whichever is lower; and
- Relaxing restrictions for drive-in events to allow people to leave their vehicles while still following public health measures.
The premier added these are “cautious changes and they are designed to help us move in the direction of protecting and safeguarding the well-being of Manitobans in all respects.”
These restrictions will expire on April 15.
Roussin noted the province has not made any changes to restrictions for indoor or outdoor gatherings at personal residences and restaurants.
“We know this prolonged contact has been a significant factor in the beginnings of our second wave,” he said.
Roussin said the province will be able to look at the further loosening of restrictions after spring break, Passover and Easter.
“We know what happened following Thanksgiving gatherings early in our second wave and we have to continue to avoid that from happening again. The variants of concern just add to that level of risk right now,” he said.
Pallister said that Manitobans provided nearly 32,000 responses to the province’s online survey about the proposed changes.
“When we ask Manitobans for their input we listen to it,” he said.
Pallister noted through this survey, the province determined that many Manitobans were not comfortable moving from Code Red to Code Orange. He said the announcement made Tuesday is because of public feedback.
“When we involve Manitobans in getting input, we do it sincerely,” the premier said.
“We do it for a reason, and that is to make sure that the plan we have for Manitoba is designed for and by Manitobans.”
THE NDP’s COMMENTS
At a news conference on Tuesday, NDP Leader Wab Kinew said it’s important for Manitobans to continue to respect Roussin’s advice.
“He is saying very clearly that there is a need to be cautious,” Kinew said.
He noted that he is also mindful of the fact that this is the second Easter that Manitobans will have to celebrate differently.
“As the pandemic does drag on, I think we have to keep in mind that we as Manitobans know the steps that are needed to reduce risk, so we need to continue to remain vigilant on that, while at the same time, of course, hoping that the government can roll out vaccines quickly and effectively,” Kinew said.
Kinew noted that he hasn’t heard about frustrated Manitobans saying they are going defy public health restrictions and gather this Easter.
“I’ve heard about people planning for a Zoom Easter, planning for more of those new ways of gathering remotely that we’ve adopted over the past year,” he said.
“I do think the threat of pandemic fatigue is real, but I think at this point most of the Manitobans that I’ve been hearing from are taking it seriously and are respecting the cautious approach that the province is taking."
One thing that does worry Kinew is hearing about slow downs at vaccine supersites.
“We know that there are vaccines in the province here that are unused, so I think the government, rather than just complaining about supply issues, could look at ways to ensure there are more vaccines getting out there to the public,” he said.