WINNIPEG — The first phase of the province’s economic reopening plan started on Monday, which means a number of non-essential businesses can now resume operations.
But, as Premier Brian Pallister noted at a news conference last week, this isn’t a return to normal.
Though some services will be reopening, such as hair salons, malls and dentists, they must do so under strict rules that have been mandated by the province. These guidelines include having hand sanitizer at entrances and exits, and no more than 10 people can gather in common areas.
During phase one of the reopening, Manitoba residents will also be required to continue follow many of the restrictions the government has set out to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Brent Roussin , Manitoba’s chief public health officer, has issued public health orders that mandate anyone coming into Manitoba has to self-isolate for 14 days.
Exceptions to this order include people who are transporting goods into the province; those who provide vital services; anyone coming into Manitoba for shared parenting arrangements; people coming to Manitoba for emergency medical purposes; as well as those who regularly travel to and from communities near the border for essential purposes.
Additionally, travel to norther Manitoba – north of the 53rd parallel of latitude – and to remote communities that aren’t connected to the highway system through all-weather roads is prohibited.
The province said these orders will continue for the foreseeable future.
At a news conference last Wednesday, Pallister emphasized the fact that public gatherings will still be restricted to 10 people or less.
“Depending on the results of this next phase we will consider increasing the size of gatherings as early as mid-May,” he said.
“But based on public health advice, we shouldn’t expect in the foreseeable future to see large gatherings, events like concerts or festivals, that will not be realistic for some time.”
The province also said that gatherings, such as social gatherings, worships, wedding and funerals will be restricted to 10 people or fewer for the foreseeable future.
SCHOOL AND CHILDCARE
As part of the province’s first phase of economic reopening, schools in Manitoba will not be opening.
As for child-care facilities and early childhood educators, they have been deemed essential services, but in order to minimize risk:
- Licensed child-care centres can only have a maximum of 16 kids per centre;
- Home-based child-care providers can only provide care to a maximum of eight kids; and
- They must implement enhanced protocols for hygiene and infection prevention.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
On April 20, Pallister extended Manitoba’s state of emergency until May 18.
At the time, the province said by extending this state of emergency it will be able to ensure that measures remain in place to protect the health of Manitobans.
In terms of enforcement of these measures, the province has enlisted Bear Clan members and Downtown Biz ambassadors to provide education to residents.
It also has an initiative called ‘Operation Safe Apart’ which will work with public safety organization and volunteers to inform people in public spaces about physical distancing.
It will be public health inspectors, liquor, gaming and cannabis authority inspectors, occupational health and safety officers, as well as bylaw officers who will enforce public health orders at businesses. Police, along with provincial and First Nations peace officers, will enforce the public health orders regarding gatherings and self-isolation.
Beginning on May 8, park patrol officers, conservation officers and park staff will enforce the orders at provincial parks. Park attendants, interpreters and beach safety services will educate and monitor.
At city-owned and operated facilities, community service ambassadors and by-law officers will provide enforcement.
If residents are found breaking the public health order, they face the possibility of a penalty.
According to the government, under legislation, penalties for violations for individuals or corporations can range from fines up to $50,000, or $500,000 and/or six months or up to a year in jail. Tickets can also be issues for violations in the amount of $486 for individuals and $2,542 for corporations.
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