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Coronavirus: Manitoba to implement phased reopening starting May 4

Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba announces gradual reopening of non-essential businesses, non-urgent medical procedures, outdoor spaces
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced on Wednesday that due to the efforts of Manitobans to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, the province will begin to "gradually start to get back to business."

Manitoba is implementing a phased approach to reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic and it will begin on May 4.

“Today is good news, and it’s good news because of you,” Premier Brian Pallister said on Wednesday.

Coronavirus: Manitoba to implement phased reopening starting May 4
Coronavirus: Manitoba to implement phased reopening starting May 4

Pallister said it was Manitobans who “stuck to the fundamentals” that kept the COVID-19 curve flat in the province.

“[Coronavirus is] nefarious, sneaky and dangerous and we have to stand up to it.

“We do not want a COVID comeback.”

Phase 1

The province said Phase 1, which will begin on May 4, will involve the resumption of some medical services and the reopening of some non-essential businesses, with restrictions in place.

“Critical public health measures and travel restrictions remain. Priority elective surgeries have been restarted, diagnostics screening will resume and some non-essential businesses will reopen but must limit occupancy to 50 per cent of normal business levels or one person per 10 square metres, whichever is lower,” the province said in a statement.

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Services, businesses and venues that can start reopening include:

  • non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures
  • therapeutic and medical services
  • retail businesses
  • restaurants – patio/walk-up services
  • hair salons
  • museums, galleries and libraries
  • seasonal day camps
  • outdoor recreation and campgrounds

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Phase 2 and future phases

Phase 2 will not start until June 1 at the earliest.

“Critical public health measures and travel restrictions may remain in place,” said the province.

Public gathering sizes may be increased and more non-essential businesses will be considered for reopening, including:

  • additional personal services, such as nail salons
  • restaurants – dine-in services
  • non-contact children’s sports
  • film production

Other phases will be implemented slowly, as guidelines are developed. Public gathering sizes will be increased and some businesses will be able to fully open. Others, like bars, pools and spas, movie theatres and indoor recreational facilities (such as local gyms) will also slowly reopen and travel restrictions will be eased.

There are no dates available for future phases.

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Things like concerts, summer festivals and major sporting events will not be considered before September.

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Daycares are already able to open and it’s expected more will open as demand increases.

About one in five daycare spaces is open right now.

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Pallister emphasized that “this is not a return to normal” and said if numbers spike, the situation will be re-evaluated.

Full details can be found on the government website or the PDF below.

Businesses who need more information should visit https://engagemb.ca/.

Read the full list of restrictions below (courtesy the Province of Manitoba.)

Watch the full press conference here:

Manitobans anticipated reopening plan

Manitobans have been anticipating the plan for several days, especially after Saskatchewan, which has similar COVID-19 case numbers, released its plan last week.

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“We want to be the first to have our economy up and functioning,” not the first to have a plan, Pallister said Tuesday.

“We all want to get back to [normal] but we want to do it safely.”

As of Tuesday, Manitoba had a total of 272 novel coronavirus cases, and the death toll remains at six. Seven people are in hospital, with two in intensive care, and there are 209 resolved and 57 active cases.

Coronavirus around the world: April 29, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: April 29, 2020

On Tuesday, Manitoba relaxed the testing criteria to include all Manitobans with symptoms.

Other provinces

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec have all released their reopening plans, although not without criticism.

Both Ontario and Quebec’s plans have been criticized as not having enough detail.

Saskatchewan’s plan, however, was more detailed and includes some dates. Its five-phase plan starts Monday, with medical services such as dentistry and physical therapy allowed to reopen, along with fishing and boat launches.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Any Manitoban with symptoms can now be tested

Reopening golf courses and other low-risk activities starts May 15, and parks will be open to Saskatchewan residents only. Overnight camping will start in June.

Saskatchewan will also allow public and private gatherings again, so long as they’re limited to 10 people.

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The second phase will allow some businesses and other private services to open on May 19, like hairdressers, clothing stores and shoe stores.

Dates for the remaining three phases — which would permit the reopening of restaurants, child-care facilities, any remaining personal services and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities — have not yet been determined.

It’s expected Manitoba’s restrictions and phases will be similar to Saskatchewan’s, but Roussin said Manitoba will have its own unique plans.

Community transmission has been very low, he added.

However, if expanded testing shows that community transmission is higher than previously thought, things will be reassessed.

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“It’s very unlikely we’ve missed a huge number of cases out there,” he said, or hospital beds designated for COVID-19 would have increased.

Manitoba’s reopening plan set to be released Wednesday
Manitoba’s reopening plan set to be released Wednesday

Pallister has already said schools will not reopen this school year.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said Tuesday he was anticipating the reopening plan but took a veiled shot at Pallister and the province for not sharing those plans with the city before they are released publicly.

READ MORE: Winnipeg mayor lists hopes for Manitoba’s COVID-19 reopening plan

He said COVID-19 has “amplified the need to better protect some of our most vulnerable citizens,” including those with addictions, the homeless and those in need of protection in women’s shelters.

“What we recognize in this is just how vulnerable some of our citizens are,” he said.

Bowman said he also hopes the province’s plan is as consistent as possible with the reopening rollouts in other jurisdictions so that the city’s business community — particularly those with offices in other cities in Canada and around the world — isn’t negatively affected.

— With files from David Giles and Shane Gibson