What you need to know about planning a wedding or group gathering in Manitoba

By | June 15, 2020

WINNIPEG — As Manitobans get their first look at the draft plan for the third phase of reopening in the province – Dr. Brent Roussin has sat down to answer some questions.

The province’s chief provincial public health officer joined a question and answer online webinar on Monday, hosted by the Winnipeg and Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, to address the questions and concerns brought about by the Phase Three draft plan. 

WEDDING DANCE FLOORS, SEATING AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Roussin fielded many questions on what Manitobans can and can’t do while planning weddings.

He says the group sizes are important to maintain. Under the draft plan for Phase Three, which is proposed to begin on June 21, gatherings of 50 people will be allowed indoors and 100 people outdoors.

“If it’s an outdoor wedding, then even better,” he said, adding the risk of COVID-19 increases when there is close prolonged contact.

In terms of wedding venues, Roussin said a tent with no walls is still ‘considered outdoors’.

For the planners looking at the possibility of a dancefloor at a wedding, Roussin said it is allowed, but those who are going to be dancing need to know the risk they are taking.

“People need to be aware of the risk of that close prolonged contact and need to be aware of those at high risk of severe impacts of this,” he said. “I would take caution.”

He said planners should ensure there is access to hand hygiene, with the best place for this being right when people walk in.

In terms of seating at weddings, Roussin said tables need to be at least six feet apart, but the people sitting at the table do not. He said it’s ideal to have people in the same household to sit together.

With wedding photos being a tradition at many weddings, Roussin said group photographs are considered brief encounters which are okay, as long as everyone is healthy.

Roussin said it is important everyone showing up at the wedding is not showing any symptoms of COVID-19. He said it is suggested to have guests use the online COVID-19 screening tool.

MANITOBA TO FACE CHALLENGES IN THE FALL

Roussin said while group gathering sizes have been proposed to be loosened in the latest phase of reopening – it is unlikely Manitoba will have large-scale events such as conferences and conventions in the fall.

“We are certainly going to keep looking to see how we can safely allow more and more (people) gathering,” he said. “The problem with large groups is, the larger the group, the more likely somebody in there has an infection. The larger the group, the more likely that person could spread to more and more people.”

He said large groups also make contact tracing difficult.

“Where we will be in the fall is obviously a little bit up in the air,” Roussin said.

One of the big challenges facing Manitoba is the annual increase in respiratory viruses in the fall. He said it will be difficult to tell if these respiratory viruses will be COVID-19, adding health officials likely won’t know until the end of the season.

He said the practice of physical distancing will be sticking around for the foreseeable future as well.

“People need to understand the risk and accept whatever risk that they can, knowing that the risk that they accept also applies to people who are close to them in their home.”

More information about the proposed Phase Three COVID-19 restrictions can be found on the Engage MB website. 

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