Manitoba considering further loosening of coronavirus restrictions as early as next week


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Manitoba is considering a further loosening of COVID-19 restrictions that would include the limited reopening of restaurants and lounges as well as gyms, nail salons and tattoo parlours.

Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday the province is looking for public feedback on the proposed changes, which could come into effect as early as next week.

Read more: Manitoba reports 3 additional coronavirus deaths, 126 new cases

“I want to thank Manitobans for their patience and their commitment to follow to the guidelines and public health orders as we cautiously begin to restart our economy and reopen our communities,” said Pallister in a release.

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“While Manitoba’s COVID cases continue to trend in the right direction, we must not lose sight of the gains we have made and the risks associated with vaccine delays and new COVID variants. We must, and will, proceed with caution to ensure we continue to protect and safeguard Manitoba lives.”

According to a provincial release, the proposed changes would include:

  • allowing food services, including restaurants and lounges, to reopen at 25 per cent capacity with closure time of 10 p.m., limited to patron groups of household members;
  • allowing personal services, including nail salons and tattoo parlours, to reopen at 25 per cent capacity with adequate physical distancing, enhanced personal protective equipment measures and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes.
  • allowing gyms to reopen at 25 per cent capacity for one-on-one and individual training sessions with adequate physical distancing, with no group classes;
  • allowing places of worship to reopen at a maximum of 10 per cent capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower;
  • allowing libraries to reopen at a maximum of 25 per cent capacity, limited to patron groups of household members;
  • allowing organized outdoor sports to resume for games or practices (no multi-team tournaments);
  • clarifying that addictions support and treatment groups can operate with adequate physical distancing measures in place;
  • allowing the film industry to resume work, with safety protocols in place;
  • opening public washroom facilities with 25 per cent capacity and enhanced signage;
  • increasing capacity for weddings to up to 10 people in addition to the officiant and photographer; and
  • allowing photographers to resume operations outdoors and with studio capacity limited to patron groups of household members only.

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The province eased some COVID-19 restrictions in all areas except the northern health region starting Jan. 23. The current public health orders expire at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 12.

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Under the current rules non-essential retail stores are allowed to open at 25 per cent capacity and a list of items previously considered non-essential — and not allowed to be sold — was  eliminated.

Read more: More store openings, expanded household visits coming under new Manitoba COVID-19 orders

Barber shops, hair salons, reflexologists and some other personal services have also been able to open.

A ban on social visits in homes was also eased to allow two designated people (family or friends) to visit a household. Outdoor visits of up to five people plus members of a household on an outdoor private property has also been allowed.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Manitoba to allow retail stores to sell non-essential goods amid increase in inter-provincial travel' Coronavirus: Manitoba to allow retail stores to sell non-essential goods amid increase in inter-provincial travel

Coronavirus: Manitoba to allow retail stores to sell non-essential goods amid increase in inter-provincial travel

The plan proposed Thursday would bring the entire province — including the north — under the same restrictions. The province said the current rules around social visits and limits on retail stores, hair salons and barbers will remain the same.

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“We’re in a stable place right now – our data is not showing evidence of a spike as a result of the reopening measures put in place Jan. 23. However, the next few weeks will be crucial to determine whether any COVID-19 variants have entered Manitoba and their impacts,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer.

“Of course, the fundamentals – including physical distancing, frequent handwashing, mask wearing and staying home when sick – still apply, and are what will help us gradually reopen more activities and services when it is safe to do so.”

Read more: More than $1.2M in coronavirus fines given out in Manitoba since April, province says

The government says it is looking for feedback from Manitobans through an online survey before making any of the proposed changes.

Provincial health officials reported three additional deaths and 126 new cases Wednesday.

Earlier in the week Manitoba saw its lowest daily cases reported since mid-October, when 83 new cases were identified Tuesday.

–With files from The Canadian Press

-More to come.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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