Winnipeg going to orange level following spike in COVID-19 cases
WINNIPEG -- Health officials have announced the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region is having its restriction levels increased.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief provincial public health officer, made the announcement Friday afternoon.
The restriction level is being increased to restricted or orange level. It will come into effect on Sept. 28.
When the health restrictions come into place on Monday, it will be mandatory for people to wear masks in all indoor public places.
Gatherings will also be restricted to 10 people for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
The areas that will be impacted by these restrictions include:
- The City of Winnipeg;
- The City of Selkirk;
- The Town of Stonewall;
- The Rural Municipality (RM) of Cartier;
- The RM of Headingley;
- The RM of Macdonald;
- The RM of Ritchot;
- The RM of Rockwood;
- The RM of Rosser;
- The RM of Springfield;
- The RM of St. Andrews;
- The RM of St. Clements;
- The RM of St. François Xavier;
- The RM of Taché;
- The RM of West St. Paul;
- The RM of East St. Paul;
- The Town of Niverville; and
- The Village of Dunnottar.
"We've seen the effectiveness of these types of measures in Prairie Mountain Health. We saw how effective limiting large gatherings were in the early stages of this pandemic," said Roussin.
He noted the five-day test positivity rate for the Winnipeg Health Region is 3.1 per cent.
The restrictions are scheduled to stay in place for a minimum of four weeks.
Roussin added existing orders and rules will stay in place for schools, childcare, retail businesses, museums, theatres, and casinos.
He also said consultations will happen with the restaurant industry to work on steps that could be put in place to lower the transmission risk of COVID-19.
"Entering a restaurant, going to the washroom in a restaurant, wearing a mask. If you are seated at a table and consuming food, you will be able to remove that mask."
Roussin added the consultation will look at things like the number of people allowed at tables as there isn't a restriction on that at the moment.
WHY THE WINNIPEG METRO AREA
Roussin was asked why so many surrounding areas were chosen for these restrictions and not just Winnipeg by itself.
He said it was important to cover several places to avoid any unintended consequences.
"When it is so easily accessible to take a step outside the perimeter to have a large group size, we thought we would see the unintended consequence of just easily shifting large groups to very convenient distances."
WINNIPEGGERS HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew was asked what he thought about the restrictions and the timing of them.
He said he wasn't going to throw stones at the government about the announcement and his main focus is driving home the message that Winnipeggers and Manitobans need to step up and fight COVID-19 together.
"For Winnipeg, for Selkirk, to go to this higher level of alert, it's something really serious," said Kinew.
He noted many generations have had to face their challenges, whether it is a war or social issues. He said the challenge today is protecting the health of others by wearing a mask.
"Do what it takes to make sure your parents, the kids out there in the community, the grandparents are going to live to see 2021," Kinew said.
He said the parties and public outings can be put on hold for a month or so and people should focus on following public health rules.
"It's not a forgone conclusion that just Dr. Roussin puts up the orange light and the curve is going to be flattened."
Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont voiced his frustrations with the government saying they aren't taking the advice of Roussin seriously enough and therefore that is leading to watered down results.
"I said six weeks ago that the way the government was talking was going to set us up for a second wave," said Lamont.
He thinks the restrictions should have been put in place immediately and should have been more impactful for bars and restaurants.
"You cannot be putting people's health and safety at risk as an afterthought."