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Manitoba Considers Minor Changes to COVID-19 Restrictions

January 19, 2021 6:15 PM | News

Coronavirus - Retail

Tape is shown on shelves preventing the sale of certain products at a pharmacy in Montreal, Sunday, January 3, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

WINNIPEG — The province has come out with a shortlist of possible changes under consideration to current public health orders by Friday.

While COVID-19 case counts are on their way down, health officials have warned a gradual reopening of services and lifting of restrictions must be done cautiously.

“As we look at ways to gradually ease restrictions on the way Manitobans socialize and do business, we must always consider the needs of our health-care system and our vulnerable communities,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.

“We cannot lose sight of the progress we have made over the last 10 weeks, which is why it is crucial that Manitobans continue to follow the fundamentals as we move forward through this pandemic.”

With case numbers remaining high in Manitoba’s northern region, any possible changes would take effect in the Winnipeg, Southern Health, Interlake–Eastern and Prairie Mountain Health regions.

Under consideration is allowing two additional people (family or friends) to visit a household, while increasing the outdoor visiting limit to five people plus members of a household on outdoor private property.

Other changes being considered include:

  • Allowing up to 10 people to attend a funeral.
  • Eliminating the essential items list in retail stores, while still maintaining social distancing. All stores would be allowed to reopen with the 25 percent capacity limit in place, or 250 people (whichever is less).
  • Reopening of barbershops and hairstylists at 25 percent capacity with adequate social distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes.
  • Reopening of non-regulated health services, such as podiatrists and reflexologists, with adequate social distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes.

Dr. Roussin says the adjusted public health orders would be in effect for three weeks.

Noticeably absent from the changes are the reopening of gyms and allowing youth sports to resume. Dr. Roussin says prolonged, indoor contact is where COVID-19 can easily be transmitted, thus avoiding such activities until a further review can be made.

More than 67,500 people responded to the province’s online survey last weekend seeking feedback on potential changes to the public health orders.

Manitobans are being asked again to provide feedback on this new set of possible changes under consideration. A new survey is available at EngageMB.ca.

Any changes would take effect on Friday, January 22, which is when the current set of “code red” restrictions will expire.