People will face fewer restrictions on dining out, playing bingo, finding child care and returning from some other provinces starting Sunday under Manitoba’s latest plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
Restaurant and bars will no longer have to operate at half capacity, however tables will have to be two metres apart or have a physical barrier in between them.
Non-smoking bingo halls and video lottery terminal lounges will be allowed to open for the first time in months, at 50 per cent capacity.
Child care centres and retail stores will be able to return to normal capacity.
People arriving in Manitobafrom the other western provinces and northwestern Ontario will no longer have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Those jurisdictions were chosen because their COVID-19 numbers are low, Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday.
“We’re hopeful that this is a measure that we can relax a little bit and that will provide some real opportunities, in particular I think for small business … that have been restricted very much up until now,” Pallister said.
Larger public gatherings will also be allowed as of Sunday.
Instead of a cap of 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, people will be able to fill up to 30 per cent of the capacity of any venue as long as they can be split into groups of 50 indoors or 100 outdoors. Each group must be able to enter and exit separately.
The announcement came as provincial health officials released more data that showed Manitoba’s pandemic numbers remain low. Two new cases were announced Wednesday — a Winnipeg man in his 30s and a Winnipeg male between the ages of 10 and 19.
That brought the province’s total of confirmed and probable cases to 306. Only six cases remain active and none of them were in hospital.
Pallister is facing pressure to loosen restrictions even more. Several churches in southern Manitoba have launched a letter-writing campaign aimed at removing any limits on religious services.
“Active cases peaked months ago on April 4,” the letter states. “The infringement upon our constitutional freedoms is unjustified.”
When asked about the letter, Pallister would only say that everyone is expected to follow the rules.
“I would say that public health orders issued by our medical advisory team … will be followed and they’ll be followed in all cases.”
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
- Indoor gathering limits are increased to up to 50 and outdoor gathering limits are increased to up to 100 people. Removing the maximum capacity of 300 people at any site provided the gathering can be physically divided into sub-groups of 50 or fewer indoors or 100 or fewer outdoors, to a maximum 30 per cent of usual capacity;
- Allowing people from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and people living in the area of the northwestern Ontario (west of Terrace Bay) to visit Manitoba without having to self-isolate for 14 days;
- Those travelling to northern Manitoba must continue to respect any restrictions that have been put in place by local communities and First Nations;
- Self-isolation requirements lifted on a case-by-case basis where sectors propose and provide satisfactory plans to address public health requirements for necessary travel; and
- Capacity limits lifted for restaurants, bars, beverage rooms, brew pubs, microbreweries and distilleries, as long as tables and seating are arranged so there is a temporary or physical barrier, or two metres of separation between people sitting at different tables.