Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer says Winnipeg, along with municipalities around the city, will move to a level Orange restriction on Monday, Sept. 28, meaning masks will be mandatory in all indoor public places.
The announcement came Friday when Dr. Brent Roussin called a last-minute press conference at 1:30 p.m. He announced 54 new cases of the novel coronavirus, 44 of which are in Winnipeg.
One previous case was removed from Winnipeg, bringing the net total of new cases to 53, he said.
“This is a very important change,” said Roussin Friday. “We need to begin to reduce the numbers of close contacts outside our homes.
“The more contacts each of us has puts each of us at risk.
“We need to ensure we are making careful choices about who we are spending time with, the nature of that time, as well as the amount of people.”
Roussin said the mask mandate will be in place for at least a month.
If people find themselves indoors in a closed-in crowded space, they should leave, said Roussin.
The municipalities that will fall under the mandatory mask rule include:
- City of Winnipeg;
- City of Selkirk;
- Town of Stonewall;
- Rural Municipality (RM) of Cartier;
- RM of Headingley;
- RM of Macdonald;
- RM of Ritchot;
- RM of Rockwood;
- RM of Rosser;
- RM of Springfield;
- RM of St. Andrews;
- RM of St. Clements;
- RM of St. François Xavier;
- RM of Taché;
- RM of West St. Paul;
- RM of East St. Paul;
- Town of Niverville; and
- Village of Dunnottar.
Gathering sizes will be pared back down to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors, he said.
Schools will continue as normal for now, said Roussin. Restaurants, movie theatres, malls will also remain open but at restricted level Orange, and Roussin said it’s “very likely” that restaurant and bar restrictions will tighten.
However, that won’t happen until consultations happen with the restaurant industry, said Roussin.
Manitoba health officials reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 and officially confirmed the province’s latest death on Thursday.
Friday’s press conference comes as Winnipeg case counts have steadily increased, outbreaks have been declared at several personal care homes, and the number of schools reporting cases since classes returned Sept. 8 has risen to double digits.
Roussin said Thursday health officials are seeing an increase in cases linked to bars, pubs, and restaurants in the city, with roughly half of all the cases reported in Winnipeg in recent weeks have been traced back to those businesses.
“Many cases are young adults in their 20s and have many various exposures at restaurants and bars and throughout the city,” he said.
”We’ve had a number of cases that have visited more than one bar in a single evening.”
Jay Shaw, the city’s Assistant Chief of Emergency Management, said the city is continuing to assess how Winnipeggers might impacted, but at this time it does not appear Transit, Transit Plus, or city libraries will be affected.
“Until the restrictions have been lifted, the city will be cancelling all bookings for groups over 10 in city owned parks, cancelling all city-led public events, including public engagement. And reducing gathering sizes for funerals and weddings on city property and in city facilities to 10 people.”