Manitoba’s reopening under relaxed COVID-19 restrictions may start with more of a whimper than a bang as some businesses say they need more time to prepare.
The province is allowing retail stores, hair salons, restaurant patios, museums and some other facilities to resume services as of Monday as long as they follow rules on reduced capacity and physical distancing and provide hand sanitizer at entrances.
The Canadian Museum For Human Rights is still “mapping out” how it can abide by the rules in its many galleries and hallways, Jacques Lavergne, vice-president of visitor experience and business development, said Thursday. No opening date has been set.
The Assiniboine Park Zoo doesn’t have a firm date in mind either.
“While we are very excited to welcome you back to the zoo, it will take some time to prepare our facilities to meet the requirements set by the province for reopening,” read a message posted on the zoo’s Facebook page.
Some smaller businesses are also planning to take some time.
“The guidelines and protocol that we have been given by the government will not be taken lightly, and with short notice, we are unable to fit the demands of the safety supplies needed,” read an Instagram post by the Sapphire Hair Lounge, which is looking to an opening date of May 19.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer said no one is under pressure to open on the first day, but some in the business community wanted to relaunch as quickly as possible after being shut down for weeks.
“Some businesses, they felt that the soonest they could open up, the better for them,” Dr. Brent Roussin said.
Roussin reported two new COVID-19 cases Thursday for a total to date of 275. With the number of people who have recovered rising to 220, the number of active cases has dropped to 49. Six people have died since the outbreak began.
It is because of the continuing low numbers that the Progressive Conservative government has announced a phased-in lifting of restrictions on businesses and the general public.
For now, a 10-person cap on public gatherings remains in place, although Premier Brian Pallister has said that could be increased to 25 in mid-May.
Nail salons, bars, movie theatres and dine-in restaurants are to remain closed, but that could change in late spring or summer if there’s no spike in COVID-19 cases.
Big crowd events such as concerts and professional sports matches are unlikely to even be considered before September, the government has said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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