Beginning on Monday, the Southern Health Region will be labelled as Critical: Red on the Pandemic System Response plan.

"To protect Manitobans and to halt the spread of COVID 19, Public Health is announcing today that Southern Health-Santé Sud Region is moving to critical, or Level Red on the Pandemic Response System," Dr. Brent Roussin said at a press conference on Friday afternoon. The region will move to Red as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 9.

Roussin says that despite messaging for Manitobans to "follow the fundamentals and reduce contacts," the province continues to see numbers head in the wrong direction. He says Manitoba is seeing a rise in case numbers and it's causing a strain on the healthcare system.

Some of the restrictions include:

  • Church gathering sizes will be set at a maximum of 15 per cent of capacity, or 100 people, whatever is the lowest.
  • Groceries stores will be reduced to a 50 per cent capacity rate. Other retail is moving to 25 per cent or five people, whichever is higher. The province is asking people to use eService, pick-up or delivery recommended whenever possible.
  • Movie theatres, libraries, and other recreational facilities must close.
  • All recreation facilities will close. Gyms will be reduced to 25 per cent and masks must be worn.
  • All restaurants and bars will be closed to in-person dining.
  • Unless notified, all current healthcare services will continue. The province says elective and non-urgent surgery and diagnostic services may be postponed. In-patient visitation to hospitals or health centres are suspected, with the exception of labour, end-of-life care, and pediatric patients. 
  • There are no changes to schools. 
  • VLTs and gaming establishments will be closed.

"It's the intent that these new orders will halt the spread of the virus, decrease the transmission of the virus in the community," Roussin said, "and we're encouraging businesses in the Southern Health-Santé Sud region to have staff work from home whenever possible, and for residents to stay home as much as possible. So, certainly, if you are ill we want you to stay home, and the messaging is the same as we have right now in Winnipeg Metropolitan Region: if you or a member of your home is ill, we want you to be self-isolating pending results of a COVID test."

The Chief Medical Officer says "We need to act now to reduce our number of contacts. This is achieved by staying home as much as possible, leaving for essential reasons only, avoid socializing outside of your household."

People should be asking themselves, he says, before they leave their home "do you need to go out? Is it an essential reason you're going out? Or is it just a natural desire that you're going out? We need to focus on leaving just for those essential reasons in the short term. Remember, it's not going to be like this forever, but right now we need to make this change to dramatically decrease the transmission of this virus."

Roussin says medical experts know that these steps work because "they've worked before for us, so they'll work again for us. We just need to get back on track."

While Southern Health covers a large geographical region, Roussin said a large part of community transmission numbers are coming from the Steinbach area.

"Here, certainly the corrections cases are in the mix, but we have seen a lot of community-based transmissions, and most of it is in the Steinbach area. So, certainly, they are a focus of transmission right now. But, you know, with the mobility of Manitobans, with the challenge we saw, sort of in Prairie Mountain Health to actually delineate a geographic area that makes sense, and also considering that much of Southern Health is already in the Critical Red because of the capital region orders, we decided to implement it at the regional level."

This is a developing story. More to come.