The changes coming to Winnipeg as Manitoba prepares for the next phase of reopening
WINNIPEG -- The city will begin accepting park bookings and is extending temporary patio applications, as the province prepares for the second phase of reopening, though Winnipeggers will have to wait a while longer before heading to the library or pool.
During a news conference on Friday, Jason Shaw, manager of the City of Winnipeg's Emergency Operations Centre, along with Mayor Brian Bowman said they are reviewing the province's draft plan for phase two of reopening.
Shaw said it is important to remember this is not simply a reversal of the measures put in place during the pandemic.
"We are embarking on a new normal, where the way we were before COVID-19 may never quite be the same again," he said. "While we are beginning to move into recovery operations, we will also need to be ready to respond quickly to any subsequent waves of COVID-19."
Shaw said beginning June 1, the city will once again accept park bookings and use of street permit bookings for groups of no larger than 50 people. City staff will begin contacting the small groups who had bookings cancelled to see if they would like to book the space again.
"What I'm hoping for is a safe and slow return to park bookings so that we can use those park spaces safely and make sure we are still following social and physical distancing rules," he said. "We want to do things slow and safe so we are not having to close things again."
Shaw said community service ambassadors will still be out reminding people to stay two metres apart, as well as bylaw enforcement officers who will be making sure the public health orders are followed.
The city will also be extending the temporary patio approvals for restaurants and micro-breweries until July 6. So far, 28 applications have been approved for temporary patios.
Shaw said even after the first phase of reopening in the province, Winnipeg Transit is still seeing about a 70 per cent reduction in ridership.
"Transit is an essential service, and right now we are still putting additional busses on when we need to," he said.
While libraries were given the all-clear from the province to open during phase one, the city said it is still reviewing and assessing how Winnipeg libraries will reopen. Shaw said just because something is allowed to reopen, doesn't mean it needs to reopen immediately.
"We want to make sure we do it safe," Shaw said. 'We know it is important to get our libraries, and we want to do that in a manner that makes sense for Winnipeggers, the public service, and our staff."
Shaw did not release any timeline on when city libraries and pools may reopen. He said the city will provide more information next week on what the next phase of reopening will look like in Winnipeg once the province finalizes its plan.