The entire province of Manitoba will move into Level Red or critical on Thursday with renewed restrictions aimed at curbing the surging coronavirus second wave.
There will be no social gatherings allowed, said Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s Chief Public Health Officer.
“These next few weeks will be difficult for many,” he said.
- Social contacts reduced to your household only, social gatherings are not permitted.
- Travel to and from northern Manitoba is restricted and non-essential travel is discouraged.
- Retail businesses listed as critical services, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, can remain open at 25 per cent capacity.
- Retail businesses that are not on the critical services list are able to provide e-service, curbside pickup or delivery services.
- All personal service businesses, including hair salons, barbers and sites offering manicures, pedicures and other esthetic services, must close.
- Gyms and fitness centres must close.
- Religious and cultural gatherings must close or be provided virtually only.
- Restaurants must close to the public and may be open for delivery, drive-thru or takeout only.
- All recreational activities, sports facilities, casinos, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres and concert halls must close.
Schools and daycares will stay open, said Roussin, as officials are not seeing much transmission within schools.
“We just have to reduce contacts, period.”
The province’s current approach for schools, which involves a mix of in-class and remote learning in many areas, is to continue because there has not been much transmission of the virus inside classrooms, officials said.
Health officials reported 383 new cases Tuesday and five additional deaths for a total of 114. The number of people in hospital with the virus topped 200 for the first time and 30 of them were in intensive care.
There has been a sharp rise in cases in Manitoba since a summer lull when, at one point in July, there was only one known active case.
There have since been outbreaks in long-term care homes and hospitals. There is widespread community transmission of the novel coronavirus. Intensive care beds, including those occupied by non-COVID-patients, are running close to capacity.
Manitoba leads all other provinces in per-capita active cases.
Premier Brian Pallister said the province is at a critical point in its fight against the virus.
“What we’ve seen in this second wave is many more contacts, we’ve lost track of those fundamentals,” said Roussin.
“Work from home if possible, reduce travel unless it’s absolutely essential, and most of all, limit your contacts to your household only.”
Roussin said the trend for Manitoba’s test positivity rate is going up in all areas, which is why the entire province is moving into Level Red.
The province is hoping to drive the rate of people testing positive down to three per cent, he added. It is currently at 10.6.
“It’s a Manitoba-wide step that we need to take.”
Pallister announced new supports for small- and medium-sized businesses, non-profit groups and cultural organizations such as museums affected by the restrictions.
Called the Manitoba Bridge Grant, it will provide $5,000 to small businesses before Christmas, and perhaps another $5,000 in the new year.
Pallister also committed $50 million to a longer-term support program in the new year to help economic recovery.
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce said the money will help.
“These announcements are very welcome and will go a long way in helping many businesses bridge to that post-COVID landscape,” chamber president Loren Remillard said.
The Opposition said the closures should have been enacted much earlier, given that case numbers and deaths began to spike weeks ago.
“Three weeks ago had we acted decisively then, could we have avoided some of the pain that we’ve seen over the past few weeks? I think that’s very likely,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.
Asked about the possibility of a vaccine around the corner, Pallister said people should not let their guard down.
“Vaccine is in the testing stage, it will take months and months” before it’s approved for use, he said.
Roussin added that when the vaccine is available, it will be prioritized for those who need it most. However, the province “will be ready” to accept the vaccine and distribute it.
On Monday, Manitoba’s COVID-19 death toll continued to rise as the province reported three more deaths as well as 365 new cases of the virus, and health officials warned more public health restrictions may be coming soon.
Manitoba’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said Monday a health-care worker died from COVID-19 as a result of one of the ongoing hospital outbreaks. She said in the past week alone 44 health-care workers have tested positive for the virus.
The owner of Maples Personal Care Home apologized Monday evening after Manitoba health officials said the home was significantly understaffed when city paramedics and multiple ambulances were called in to help deal with the critical COVID-19-related health concerns of several residents Friday night.
Paramedics were first called to the Revera-owned private facility at 500 Mandalay Dr. around 7 p.m. and stayed for nearly seven hours, assessing at least 12 patients.
Two who died that night were part of a 48-hour span that saw seven COVID-19 deaths at the personal care home.
–With files from Shane Gibson and Steve Lambert from The Canadian PressView link »