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Masks now mandatory in Winnipeg, surrounding areas

Masks are now mandatory in Winnipeg and 17 surrounding communities amid a recent resurgence in novel coronavirus cases.
Masks are now mandatory in Winnipeg and 17 surrounding communities amid a recent resurgence in novel coronavirus cases. Getty Images

Increased public health restrictions in the Winnipeg metro region begin today — masks are now mandatory in all indoor public places, while a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and outdoors begins.

The increased restrictions come amid a rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg in recent weeks.

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The province said Winnipeg, along with the municipalities surrounding the city, will move to a level orange restriction Monday, under Manitoba’s colour-coded pandemic response rating system.

The ramped-up restrictions were announced Friday when Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, called a last-minute press conference at 1:30 p.m. That day, the top doctor announced 54 new cases of the novel coronavirus, 44 of which are in Winnipeg.

Read more: Metro Winnipeg area moving to level Orange restrictions Monday; masks to be mandatory

Saturday, the province announced 65 cases, 56 of which were in Winnipeg. Then Sunday, Manitoba saw another 51 cases, 36 of which were in Winnipeg.

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The new restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks, including Thanksgiving on Oct. 12, Roussin said Friday.

Not all communities under the Code Orange restrictions are happy with the changes, however.

Selkirk mayor Larry Johansson told 680 CJOB his city serves as a hub for the Interlake, and isn’t like the other bedroom communities, so it shouldn’t fall under the Code Orange with the rest of the Winnipeg Metro area.

“Our team has worked very hard — very diligently — on keeping our community safe,” he said.

“I think numbers don’t lie: we have no cases here.”
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Johansson said he looks south to Steinbach as an example of a similar community which isn’t looped in to the Orange level, but where the community is buying in to the new rules with little pushback.

“We have industry, we’ve got commerce, housing, we’ve got medical, strong recreation — so we’re not a bedroom community,” he said.

“I can see the bedroom communities close to Winnipeg being involved with this, but it disappoints me that we’re looped in there with them.”

Read more: ‘Sales will be down for sure’: Winnipeg bars brace for end of patio season

Restaurants and bars are now facing additional pressure due to the restrictions on gathering sizes
Winnipeg radio personality Joe Aiello said he achieved a dream and became the co-owner of a restaurant — Frankie’s Italian Kitchen and Bar — just before the first wave of the coronavirus hit.With only a few months of ‘normal’ business before having to pivot completely to deal with COVID-19 restrictions, Aiello told 680 CJOB his restaurant has been “going through a few hurdles”, but overall he’s impressed with the dedication of Manitobans when it comes to supporting local businesses.
Frankie’s Italian Kitchen and Bar has, like many other bars and restaurants in Manitoba, been forced to change its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frankie’s Italian Kitchen and Bar has, like many other bars and restaurants in Manitoba, been forced to change its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instagram / Joe Aiello
“Manitoba has been very good to us so far since we’ve been open,” he said.
“A lot of people went with the ‘support local’ plan and still are, so I’ve been blessed, to be honest. Even with COVID and everything else, it’s just nice to have a lot of support and backing from people.”
Aiello said he prefers to look at the positive — that his restaurant was able to open up in the first place — while admitting the entire industry is in survival mode with more severe restrictions.
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“It’s a reset for everyone,” he said, “even established restaurants that have been around for 20-30 years.

“For us, it was all new. I had nothing to compare it to because we’d only been open for a few weeks or months. This was our first summer — and it was a COVID summer.”

Aiello said despite the limits on in-person customers, takeout remains a popular option for many who are socially isolating, and if there’s one benefit to the whole ordeal, it’s that the industry might take on more stringent health and safety routines going forward.

“It really comes down to making sure of things now — and that probably makes a lot of our places better because of it.

(There’s) more sanitizing going on… procedures in place to keep everybody safe, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

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