Western Canada, northwestern Ontario travel restrictions may be lifted in Manitoba’s next reopening phase

By | June 11, 2020

Isolation requirements could end for travellers to and from Western Canada and northwestern Ontario could end in the next phase of Manitoba’s COVID-19 reopening, tentatively planned for June 21.

Gathering sizes could increase to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors in Phase 3 as well, Premier Brian Pallister said at a news conference on Thursday morning.

While there might be changes to interprovincial travel rules coming, Manitoba could bring those restrictions back if the data suggests the province’s COVID-19 situation is getting worse, Pallister said.

“We have to be ready, if need be, to reverse and reimpose some restrictions if COVID begins to make a significant comeback,” he said.

Case numbers aren’t the only important thing to pay attention to, Pallister said. The province will keep a close eye on whether the percentage of positive test results stays low.

The proposed plan also allows daycares to resume operating at regular capacity, and day camps to increase capacity to 50.

While the draft says kindergarten to Grade 12 schools can now actively plan for the fall, Pallister said dialogue and planning will continue and did not say whether there will be a return to in-class education come September.

“I don’t want to prejudge where we’ll be in the fall … because I just don’t know where the COVID numbers will be,” he said.

The draft plan also proposes letting people employed by or affiliated with a professional sports team to enter Manitoba without self-isolating for two weeks, as long as they have self-isolated for 14 days before arriving in the province and follow appropriate hygiene measures while travelling.

“We have the defending Grey Cup champions here. We would like them to do that again for the second time. We want to make sure that we do it safely,” Pallister said.

Occupancy limits at restaurants, bars, beverage rooms, brew pubs, microbreweries and distilleries may also be increased to 75 per cent of total capacity indoors and on patios, while occupancy limits for retail stores could be removed entirely if physical distancing measures are in place.

For regulated and non-regulated health professions, including registered massage therapists, occupancy limits could also be lifted.

Casinos and movie theatres are on the horizon for reopening, but they’re not in the current plan. Easing of those restrictions will depend on how the next phase of the reopening goes, Pallister said.

“We are trying to move safely forward. We don’t want to have to move backward,” he said.

The draft plan announced on Thursday is not final, and the province is open to consultation on it, Pallister said.

“Manitobans who are concerned about that and think we’re going too fast, or those who think we are going too slow are welcome to comment,” he said.

Manitoba started Phase 2 of its reopening on June 1, allowing most businesses that were forced to close their doors because of the coronavirus to reopen, including restaurants, gyms and seniors centres.

There have been 300 cases of COVID-19 reported in Manitoba, with no one in hospital and eight active cases on Wednesday, which was the fifth straight day with no new cases in the province. Seven people have died.

Provincial health officials will release new information about the pandemic at a news conference at 1 p.m. Thursday.

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