Starting on Thursday, Manitobans will need to follow a new list of restrictions, including churches not being permitted to have in-person services.
The province is planning for the new restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks, but say things could change if things go well in two weeks' time.
Premier Brian Pallister and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced during a Tuesday morning they will be implementing more restrictions under the Pandemic System Response plan. Pallister says the province's number one priority is providing care to Manitobans.
"We are going to save lives," Pallister says.
This follows yesterday's warnings from Roussin that "nothing is off the table" following COVID-19 restrictions.
As of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, the entire province of Manitoba will move to the Critical level (red) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System.
No social gatherings are allowed and churches must only operate virtually. Schools will remain open.
“We are at a critical point in our fight against COVID-19, and we must do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable Manitobans and ensure our health-care system is there for Manitobans when they need it,” said Pallister. “This is a team effort, and we all have a role to play in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our community. By taking these measures seriously, we are going to save lives.”
The list of new restrictions include:
• Social contacts reduced to your household only. Social gatherings are not permitted.
• Travel to and from northern Manitoba is restricted and non-essential travel is discouraged.
• Retail businesses listed as critical services, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, can remain open at 25 per cent capacity.
• Retail businesses not on the list are able to provide e-service, curbside pickup or delivery services.
• All personal service businesses, including hair salons, barbers and sites offering manicures, pedicures and other esthetic services, must close.
• Gyms and fitness centres must close.
• Religious and cultural gatherings must close or be provided virtually only.
• Restaurants must close to the public and may be open for delivery, drive-thru or takeout only.
• All recreational activities, sports facilities, casinos, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres and concert halls must close.
“We have taken steps in individual regions, but it’s time to take a more drastic approach to halt the rising case number and wide-spread community transmission of this deadly virus,” Roussin says. “I cannot stress enough to all Manitobans – now is the time to stay home and reduce your close contacts.”
The province says no changes will be made to child-care services or to kindergarten to Grade 12 education delivery at this time. Roussin noted the province has not seen widespread transmission among children, students and staff.
Roussin is asking people to:
• Reduce the number of shoppers from your household to the lowest possible number. Send only one person to shop.
• Work from home if at all possible.
• Reduce travel unless absolutely essential.
• Remember all those you have come in contact with recently.
Restriction compliance and enforcement issues can be reported at www.manitoba.ca/COVID19, or by calling 204-945-3744 or 1-866-626-4862 (toll-free). Fines for failing to comply with public health or emergency orders have recently been increased to $1,296 for individuals and $5,000 for corporations.
Manitobans are still strongly encouraged to focus on these fundamentals to help stop the spread of COVID-19:
• Stay home if you are sick or when any member of your family is sick.
• Reduce your contacts to your household only and avoid closed-in or crowded spaces.
• Wash/sanitize your hands, cover your cough and physically distance when you must be with people outside your household.
• If you cannot physically distance, you should wear a mask to help reduce your risk.
• Get a flu shot.
Only individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should go for testing unless directed by a public health offical. Individuals with symptoms are asked to seek testing as soon as possible once symptoms are present. Employers are asked to only send employees for testing if they have symptoms or if testing has been recommended by public health officials.
Public health officials are asking Manitobans that if you are symptomatic, or if someone in your household is symptomatic, your entire household needs to self-isolate pending COVID-19 test results. The symptomatic individual needs to stay in their own room and, if possible, use their own bathroom and not use common areas. This does not apply to asymptomatic household members if they are an essential worker required to wear PPE while at work such as health-care workers or first responders.
The premier is calling the pandemic the greatest challenge of "our lifetime."
"We need to flatten our curve now."
Pallister says his "thoughts and prayers are with families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic"
This is a developing story.