State of emergency declared

By | March 20, 2020

Manitoba is declaring a state of emergency amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Brian Pallister announced this morning.

“This is to prepare us, to put us on that footing, so we’re able to react and be nimble,” Pallister said.

“This is not something we take lightly. We respect the individual rights and freedoms of all our citizens.”

There is also a public health order to observe a 50-person gathering limit.

Restaurants and bars are limited to 50 people or half capacity, whatever is lower. Places like gyms, bingo halls and fitness centres also are to be closed.

Pallister said the emergency measure will be in place for 30 days.

There are 17 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province. One person has been hospitalized. 

Manitoba has done 3,554 tests for the virus.

The premier urged Manitobans to do their part by volunteering to help others, taking care of children and donating blood.

WATCH | Premier Brian Pallister urges Manitobans to think of others

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister encourages everyone to look after each other during the pandemic. 0:45

The new measures also mean all bingo and gaming events are ordered to close immediately, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said during the news conference.

The 50-person gathering limit does not apply to health-care or social services facilities, Roussin said.

Retail businesses like grocery stores, shopping centres, pharmacies and gas stations have to ensure separation of one to two metres between people inside the premises, he said.

Public transportation facilities also have to make sure people are reasonably able to maintain the same separation.

“We are taking these steps to ensure people make changes to their day-to-day lives,” Roussin said.

The measures are in effect as of 4 p.m. Friday, Roussin said.

The declaration gives the province powers to make sure people are following orders to help slow the virus’s spread, he said.

“The act makes it an offence to contravene any order, and so it can be fines or even a term of imprisonment,” Roussin said.

Public health inspectors and municipal law enforcement could be enlisted to enforce the public health order, he said.

Any fines given to individuals can’t be more than $50,000, and any given to corporations can’t exceed $500,000, he said. A term of imprisonment given under the act can’t exceed six months.

Compliance would be requested before resorting to those measures, though, Roussin said.

Alberta, Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have all called states of emergency over COVID-19. 

As of 10 a.m. CT Friday, there were more than 900 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 12 people have died.

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