WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is extending the current restrictive public health orders until January 22.
The critical (red) level restrictions came into effect on November 12, meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. The orders were set to expire on Friday.
In a release, provincial officials said now is not the time to let up, citing high test-positivity rates and hospital admissions.
“These public health orders are necessary to halt the spread of this deadly virus and protect our most vulnerable Manitobans,” said Premier Brian Pallister.
“While we recognize these restrictions are difficult, they require the co-operation and commitment by all Manitobans to make them work. I continue to urge all Manitobans to follow the fundamentals, stay safe at home and limit your close contacts as much as possible.”
The current restrictions ban gatherings outside of an immediate household and prevent non-essential businesses from operating. Those businesses that can operate are only permitted to sell essential items. Gyms, hair salons and churches must also remain closed. Outdoor gatherings are still limited to five people on public property only.
A minor change is being made to allow an exemption for the Winnipeg Jets. Clarifications have been made to ensure all elements of game play (administrative officials, broadcasters, scouts, etc.) are covered in the order. The team will be required to follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of league members as well as limit the risk to the public.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, says there have been more than 355 cases and nearly 1,900 contacts linked to holiday gatherings. Roussin expects to see high numbers in the coming days.
“That is why we’re extending the public health orders with a minor adjustment. We need to continue to protect our families and friends by staying home as much as possible,” he said.
Before public health orders can be eased, the province will begin to consult with Manitobans for feedback next week on potential future changes to the orders, should case numbers allow.