WINNIPEG — With an all-time high of 480 new COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases announced by the province on Friday, Winnipeg will be under tighter health restrictions beginning Monday.
The province is moving the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region to the red (critical) level on the Pandemic Response System, effective November 2. The restrictions have a swath of impacts, including:
- Bars and restaurants will be closed except for take-out and delivery.
- Most retail will be reduced to 25 percent capacity.
- Sports and recreation programming will be suspended.
- Gyms and fitness centres will have reduced capacity to 25 percent and masks will be mandatory, even when exercising.
- Movie theatres and concert halls will close.
- Personal services have no change and stay at 50 percent capacity.
- Non-urgent and elective surgeries and diagnostics will be suspended. Scheduled surgeries in a number of essential and time-sensitive areas will continue to be performed including cancer, cardiac and trauma. Patients will be contacted directly if their scheduled surgeries are affected.
- Visitation at all Manitoba hospitals has been suspended, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis for patients receiving end-of-life care, in labour and delivery, as well as in pediatrics.
- Faith-based gatherings are reduced to 15 per cent or 100 people, whichever is lower.
- There will be no changes to schools. Blended learning will continue for high school students and remote learning will be available for K-8 students.
The restrictions will remain for at least two weeks and then be reevaluated.
“We have pleaded with Manitobans to follow the fundamentals and to significantly reduce their contacts, and the numbers continue in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.
“It is our hope that these new restrictions will help to halt the spread of this virus in order to ensure our health-care system is there for those who need it. I hope that this is a clear signal to Manitobans, and in particular the Winnipeg Metro Region, that we need to stay home, keep our distance and make a necessary collective sacrifice to protect all Manitobans.”
The Winnipeg area has been under the orange (restricted) level on the PRS since September 28, when masks were made mandatory in indoor public places and group sizes were reduced.
These new measures go a step further in an effort to stop the community spread of COVID-19, which is beginning to overwhelm the health-care system. Late Thursday, St. Boniface Hospital announced its ICU was at capacity and further surgeries may have to be cancelled to free up staff. The hospital is the site of multiple coronavirus outbreaks, while Victoria General Hospital is also dealing with an outbreak.
The province is also encouraging businesses in the Winnipeg Metro Region, including the public service, to have staff work from home wherever possible, and for residents to stay home when sick and take whatever action possible to reduce their contacts and otherwise gathering in public.
— ChrisD.ca (@ChrisDca) October 30, 2020
Active cases surge, 3 additional deaths
Three additional deaths were also reported Friday. A man in his 80s, a woman in her 90s and a woman in her 80s, all from the Winnipeg region and linked to the outbreak at Parkview Place.
Dr. Roussin says there are 2,737 active cases, 2,572 people have recovered, and 104 people are in the hospital, including 19 in the intensive care unit. Sixty-five people have died.
Friday’s cases include:
- 42 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region;
- 25 cases in the Northern health region;
- 10 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region;
- 94 cases in the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region; and
- 309 cases in the Winnipeg health region.
Laboratory testing numbers show 2,865 tests were completed yesterday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February to 253,357.
Other regions moving to orange (restricted) level
Several other areas of the province are joining the Northern health region at the orange (restricted) level. Beginning Monday, November 2, stricter measures in the Southern Health, Prairie Mountain Health and Interlake–Eastern health regions take effect.
Similar to the restrictions Winnipeg has been under since late September, these measures include:
“The incubation period for this virus is up to 14 days – if we limit our contacts and stay home, we could see drastic reductions in transmission within weeks,” Dr. Roussin added. “We have done this before and I am confident we can do it again. But we need to be serious about this if we want to bend the curve.”
Any person concerned about their exposure to or risk of having COVID-19 no longer has to call Health Links — Info Santé to be screened for a test. Anyone with symptoms is still encouraged to use the online screening tool to determine whether they meet the necessary criteria to attend a community testing site.
Watch Friday’s media briefing:
Further information on COVID-19 can be found at Manitoba.ca/covid19.