Dr. Brent Roussin says the hard work of Manitobans is paying off as case numbers are trending in the right direction, announcing proposed health order changes that could come into effect at the end of next week.
Roussin is asking the public to provide their feedback regarding what they think the province's next reopening steps should be.
"It's important to note that these changes would keep the province under Red: Critical," Roussin says, noting that Manitobans need to remain cautious and continue to follow the fundamentals of washing hands, physical distancing, and staying home when sick.
Roussin says that one of the proposed changes is increasing the size of worship services.
Currently, places of worship are limited to 10 per cent capacity, but that may soon increase to 25 per cent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. He says places or worship will still be limited to holding regular worship gatherings only, and not extra gatherings such as Bible studies or youth groups.
"I think we still have to be very cautious, and I think it's a very incremental approach," he says in regards to increasing the cap on worship gatherings. "We have outbreaks that are linked to faith-based gatherings in our jurisdiction and pretty much every jurisdiction. It has nothing to do with the operators or the people there; it has everything to do with the nature of this virus. Prolonged, indoor contact, that's the nature."
Roussin stresses that the government wants to remain cautious but also recognizes that worship services are important to people.
"We want to respect the importance of this taking place, as well as the hard work that a lot of these organizations have put into trying to make this safe for others."
Indoor household gathering size regulations are on the table for changes. Roussin says the household could pick between continuing to designate two visitors, or instead, to designate a second household to visit freely between without household sizes. For this change, all household members must agree.
Outdoor gatherings could increase to 10 people, including non-organized sport or recreation activities.
Sports and Recreation
Gyms, pools, and other fitness facilities could open for individual use and group instruction and practices, without masks.
Common areas and locker rooms could for a total capacity of 25 per cent. Masks would be required in common areas.
Indoor recreational facilities could reopen at a 25 per cent capacity, including arcades and children’s facilities.
Outdoor amusement parks could open at 50 per cent capacity.
Children's day camps could occur at a 25 per cent maximum capacity, with a max of 50 people.
Dance, theatre and music facilities could reopen for individual instruction and group classes, at a 25 per cent max capacity.
There are no plans to allow audiences at sports games or concerts in the reopenings.
Malls, retail stores, and personal services could be seeing an increase in capacity, moving from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, or 100 people, whichever is lower.
Restaurants and licensed premises could open at 50 per cent max capacity. Only households would be able to be seated.
The province also wishes to let any business open, with the exception of indoor theatres, indoor concert halls, casino and bingo halls.
He says the changes will likely go into effect in two phases, with some taking place on March 5, and then again on March 26. At this time Roussin wouldn't say what changes may take effect first and stressed that they are only proposed changes at this time.
The current orders expire at midnight on Friday, March 5.