Manitoba is considering loosening COVID-19 public health orders further, removing some limits on outdoor gathering sizes and restaurant capacity.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin released a list of changes he says health officials are considering Thursday.
“Manitoba’s case numbers continue to trend in the right direction which allows us to consider reopening more services cautiously and safely,” said Roussin in a government release.
“However, with the variant of concern now here in Manitoba, it is crucial that Manitobans continue to follow the fundamentals and avoid the activities that are known to cause the greatest risk — crowded places, closed-spaces, and close-contact settings — so we can contain the spread of COVID-19 until we can immunize and better protect more of our population.”
Manitoba’s current public health orders are set to expire next week.
The proposed changes include raising capacity limits at stores and personal service operations to 50 per cent from the current 25 per cent.
Restaurant capacity would also increase to 50 per cent capacity from 25 per cent, but tables would continue to be limited to members of the same household.
Indoor religious services would be allowed at 25 per cent, up from 10 per cent and outdoor public gatherings would be capped at 10 people instead of the current five.
The province is asking Manitobans to weigh in on the proposed changes through an online survey.
“Manitobans continue to do their part to keep our COVID curve down, which why we are once again in a position to consider loosening restrictions and allowing more Manitobans to get back to doing some of the things they love and have missed over the past few months,” said Premier Brian Pallister in a release.
“We’re asking Manitobans to provide their input and priorities for the next rounds of reopening, while ensuring we continue to protect the health and well-being of all Manitobans.”
Roussin said the proposed changes would go into effect across the province in two phases as early as March 5 and again on March 26.
A full list of the changes being considered include:
- Households and gatherings:
– allowing households the choice of continuing to designate two visitors to their home, or to designate a second household to visit each other, as long as everyone in the house has authorized those designated individuals to visit and families would have to choose either the two-person option or the additional household option;
– increasing gathering limits at an outdoor place to 10 people including for outdoor non-organized sport or recreation activities; and
– increasing the capacity size at places of worship for regular religious services to 25 per cent or 100 people, whichever is lower, with physical distancing measures in place and mask requirements.
- Business, retail and restaurants:
– enabling any type of business to be able to operate with the exception of indoor theatres, indoor concert halls, casino and bingo halls;
– expanding the capacity limits for retail stores, malls and personal services to up to 50 per cent capacity or 250 people, whichever is lower, with other public health measures still in effect;
– expanding restaurants and licensed premises to up to 50 per cent capacity with requirements to still only sit with members of your household and with other public health measures still in effect;
– allowing businesses to resume operating video lottery terminals, with physical distancing measures and barriers in place; and
– allowing professional theatre groups, dance companies, symphonies or operas to resume rehearsals as long as rehearsals are not accessible to members of the public.
- Recreation and fitness:
– allowing day camps for children to operate at 25 per cent capacity with a maximum group size of 50, with other public health measures in place;
– allowing indoor recreation and sporting facilities, such as gyms, fitness centres, rinks, courts, fields, ranges, studios, clubs, pools and centres to open for individual use and group instruction and practices only, with public health measures in place for spectators, common areas and locker rooms for a total capacity of 25 per cent;
– allowing dance, theatre and music facilities to open for individual instruction and group classes for a total capacity of 25 per cent;
– allowing gyms and fitness centres to provide group instruction or classes at 25 per cent capacity per class with physical distancing measures in place, in addition to one-on-one instruction and individual workouts for a total facility capacity of 25 per cent;
– allowing indoor recreational facilities such as arcades, go-kart tracks and children’s facilities to open at 25 per cent capacity with physical distancing measures in place;
– allowing outdoor amusement parks to open at 50 per cent capacity with physical distancing measures in place; and
– allowing users of gyms, fitness centres and pools to not wear a mask while taking part in a physical activity, but requiring mask use in other areas of the facility.
Manitoba’s current orders, which went into effect Feb. 12, have allowed restaurants to open to dine-in customers with a 25 per cent capacity limit.
Other venues that have been allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity include museums, libraries, tattoo parlours, art galleries and gyms.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 case numbers continue a downward trend from a spike in the fall into the new year.
Health officials reported 70 new cases Thursday and one death. The percentage of people testing positive stood at 4.3 per cent after topping 12 per cent in the fall.
–With files from The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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