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Manitoba’s Phase 2 reopening amid COVID-19 will start June 1

Phase 2 of Manitoba reopening plan to take effect June 1st
The second phase of reopening Manitoba’s economy amid COVID-19 will start June 1. Brittany Greenslade reports.

The second phase of reopening Manitoba’s economy amid COVID-19 will start June 1.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister made the much-anticipated announcement at a press conference from the legislative building Wednesday morning.

“As a result of your hard work and based on advice from our public health experts I am very pleased today to announce that we’re going to be able to move into Phase 2 effective June the first,” Pallister said.

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Some of the services that will be gradually restored include expanded capacity at childcare centres, allowing limited access to educational facilities, the reopening of community centres, and the resumption of team sports and recreational activities including theatre and dance.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Draft plan of Phase 2 released for Manitoba, but no date confirmed

The limited access to educational facilities  — where physical distancing can be maintained — will allow for additional tutorial days such as one-on-one learning, assessment and specific programming, he said.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year.

But they will be allowed as of Monday to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios can resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

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Manitoba Education will continue planning and consulting with school divisions, Pallister said.

Under the plan restaurants, bars, beverage rooms, micro-brewers will be allowed to offer indoor service at 50 per cent capacity. Bars, beverage rooms, micro-brewers will also be able to open patio service at 50 per cent capacity.

Gyms, swimming pools, fitness clubs, and spas will also be able to reopen under the plan.

READ MORE: Winnipeg opens city-owned parks to groups of up to 50 amid coronavirus

Religious and other organizations will be allowed to hold outdoor services without a limit on numbers as long as people stay in their vehicles.

Occupancy limits on outdoor recreation facilities and golf courses will be lifted and limited access will be allowed to indoor spaces as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

Personal services such as pedicurists, manicurists, and estheticians will also be allowed to open, Pallister said.

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But here will be limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing in all cases, Pallister noted.

“I would mention that in each of these categories there have been developed in partnership with the various organizations, strict protocols that must be followed so that we maintain the discipline necessary to keep ourselves safe,” said Pallister.

“This is what our small businesses want, so they can remain open and so that they can attract their customers back to their operations.

“This is what we all want, to be sure that we are keeping each other safe when we go out.”

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The final Phase 2 plan is revised from a draft plan that Pallister announced last week.

According to a provincial release, the changes made to the draft plan include:

  • detailed guidance for post-secondary educational institutions and vocational colleges;
  • removing occupancy limits for therapeutic and health-care services;
  • detailed guidance for senior’s clubs;
  • additional details on requirements for the safe operation of splash pads;
  • updated guidance for community centres;
  • the reopening of arts and cultural activities, such as dance, art and theatre;
  • clarifications on the opening of bars, beverage rooms, brew pubs, micro-brewers and distilleries to allow sites that do not serve food to open, as well as updated guidance from public health that all patrons must be seated at tables and stand-up service is not allowed; and’
  • detailed public health guidelines for film productions

Things outlined in the draft report that remain in the final version include increasing child-care centre occupancy to 24 children plus staffing, increasing day camp group sizes to 24, and allowing direct travel to northern parks, campgrounds, cabins, lodges and resorts while ensuring physical distancing.

Specific details and limitations on the reopenings can be found at the province’s website.

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In its first reopening phase on May 4, the Progressive Conservative government allowed many services, including non-essential retail stores, restaurant patios and museums, to resume.

The province said Wednesday a third phase of reopening won’t be considered before June 21.

Changes included in that phase could see fully re-opened bars, beverage rooms, and micro-brewers, the reopening of movie theaters, casinos, bingo halls and indoor recreational facilities, with capacity limitations, and the reopening of amusement parks and similar outdoor recreation businesses.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Manitoba’s gathering sizes to be increased starting Friday, say officials

Last week the province increased the size of gatherings allowed to 25 indoors and up to 50 outdoors and allowed professional sports teams to resume practicing.

Some activities remain forbidden under Phase 2.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September, the government said.

“Case numbers and positive test rates continue to be low and other key factors are also positive,” said Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, in a provincial release.

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“These additional steps to safely restore services will help ease the impacts on Manitobans and ensure the health system continues to be able to respond if case numbers increase slightly.”

The June 1 start date for Phase 2 falls in line with when the province had originally said the reopening could begin.

READ MORE: Manitoba’s next phase of COVID-19 reopening could happen sooner than expected: health officials

The news comes as Manitoba’s COVID-19 case count remains relatively low.

For the fourth day in a row Manitoba health officials said their were no new cases of COVID-19 to report Tuesday. The province has reported only three new cases in the past two weeks.

To date the province has recorded 292 cases of the virus.

There were 16 active cases and 269 people had recovered as of Tuesday. There is currently no one in the hospital and the province’s death toll due to COVID-19 sits at seven.

–With files from the Canadian Press

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