What’s allowed to open, what’s staying closed as Manitoba navigates first stage of reopening during pandemic

By | May 3, 2020

As certain businesses in Manitoba get ready to reopen this week, there are still questions about what it might now look like to get a haircut, have a drink on a patio or take in a display at a museum.

Last week, Premier Brian Pallister announced the province’s reopening plan that will allow some non-essential health-care and retail businesses — including restaurant patios, hair salons, dental offices, retail stores and museums — to open their doors again starting Monday.

The announcement left some businesses scrambling to figure out a plan that would allow them to welcome customers within a few days after being forced to shut their doors for weeks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba.

Gatherings in Manitoba will still be limited to a maximum of 10 people — a number that isn’t scheduled to be expanded before June.

While the eased restrictions will allow some places to reopen, they don’t mandate anyone to get back to work — and some businesses are choosing to stay closed for now, out of fear it could put them and their clients in danger.

Here’s what we know about who’s taking up the province on its offer to reopen some businesses and public spaces starting Monday.

Playgrounds, skate parks, picnic shelters

Outdoor recreation sites like playgrounds, skate parks, golf courses, tennis courts and driving ranges are allowed to open starting Monday (as long as they follow certain new rules outlined in the province’s reopening plan that are aimed at ensuring physical distancing and limiting the potential spread of COVID-19).

But whether they actually open is up to whoever runs each site. The Winnipeg School Division, for example, said it will keep its playgrounds closed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba School Boards Association said if school divisions can get school-owned playgrounds cleaned and signage posted with the rules by Monday, they could be reopened, but that’s unlikely.

Signs like this will soon come down, as the City of Winnipeg plans to reopen its playgrounds as of Monday. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg also said it plans to reopen its playgrounds and picnic shelters. There are still closed signs on the structures right now, but those will be taken down.

The city’s skate parks, athletic fields and tennis and basketball courts are also slated to reopen on Monday, though contact sports are still barred under the province’s plan and gatherings still cannot exceed 10 people.

Pools and recreation centres run by the city will stay closed for now.

Hair salons, barber shops

Hairstylists are allowed to reopen on Monday, but they’ll have added restrictions and their services will be limited to washes, cuts, colouring and styling. 

Hair salons and barber shops will be allowed to reopen in Manitoba on Monday, as long as they follow a new set of restrictions. (Julio-Cesar Chavez/Reuters)

Salons will need to keep workstations two metres apart and sanitize those stations, and their equipment, between clients. Anything that can’t be cleaned between clients can’t be used.

Some shops have said they have enough supplies to reopen right away, but others may need to wait until they’re prepared and able to abide by the new rules.

Golf courses

Some private golf courses might be welcoming golfers soon depending on course conditions and how quickly staff can implement new rules.

Several city-owned golf courses are set to reopen with new precautions in place starting Monday. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The City of Winnipeg is also planning to open its golf courses at Kildonan Park, Crescent Drive and Harbour View on Monday. The Windsor Park golf course won’t be open yet because of high water levels on the Seine River.

But all courses that open Monday need to follow new rules, including screening golfers for COVID-19 symptoms when booking tee times. Golfers also won’t be allowed to use water fountains or ball washers, remove the pin from the hole during play or share a golf cart with someone they don’t live with.

Dentists, podiatrists and other non-urgent health care

While everything from dentists to optometrists to massage therapists will be allowed to reopen under new restrictions, whether you’ll be able to book an appointment depends on a few factors.

Massage therapists, for example, said they’ll still have to consider how to get enough personal protective equipment in time to reopen on Monday.

Optometrists in Manitoba will resume most procedures on Monday, including eye exams and consultations on eyewear. (Ashley Burke/CBC )

Some dentists’ offices, on the other hand, are opening to deal with anything causing pain or infection. Simpler appointments for things like cleanings will have to wait for now.

Optometrists will resume most procedures on Monday, including eye exams and consultations on eyewear.

Chiropractors and podiatrists have said they’re also ready to resume services starting Monday, but physiotherapy clinics will only open if they’re able to find enough personal protective equipment.

Libraries, museums, galleries

While Manitoba is allowing libraries to open as part of the first phase of its plan, it’s unlikely any will be open as soon as Monday — in part because of the rules set out by the province, which says “high-touch displays” must remain closed for now.

Mayor Brian Bowman said the city is looking into how to reopen libraries, but won’t be making any immediate changes.

While libraries are technically allowed to reopen in Manitoba starting Monday, that doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to stop by to take out a book anytime soon. (Daniel Gagne/CBC)

Winnipeg’s digital library services are still available during the closures.

Museums and art galleries are also allowed to reopen under new restrictions, but whether they actually will depends on the space.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery, for example, is opening its doors to frontline workers starting Tuesday and to everyone else starting Thursday.

The Manitoba Museum, on the other hand, laid off dozens of workers last week and will not reopen until it can clean properly. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights could reopen sometime this summer.

Restaurants and retailers

Patios are technically allowed to reopen on Monday — and while some restaurant owners are ready to make the change, not everyone feels comfortable letting people back in just yet.

Restaurant patios that reopen will need to follow a strict new set of restrictions. Those rules state people will have to be seated at least two metres apart on patios.

Tables and chairs will have to be cleaned between customers, as will condiment containers or any other shared items, like menus and napkin dispensers. Buffets are not allowed.

Temporary patios must have a fence installed, like this one at Bar Italia on Corydon Avenue, if the restaurant serves alcohol. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

The seating areas inside cafes and restaurants will stay closed to the public, but delivery, take-out or walk-up food service will be allowed.

The City of Winnipeg said it’s expediting temporary patio permits to help get restaurants back up and running. Those permits will be good until the end of May, when the city will re-evaluate the situation. Usually, businesses are encouraged to apply for patio permits in January.

Retail businesses will be allowed to reopen under another strict set of rules that include limiting the number of people inside to 50 per cent of normal occupancy or one person per 10 square metres (whichever is lower).

Day camps and campgrounds

While booking at some provincial campgrounds starts on Monday, there are still going to be rules in place aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. For example, gatherings at campgrounds and parks will still be limited to a maximum of 10 people, and campers will still have to follow physical distancing protocols. 

Provincial parks will also introduce enhanced cleaning procedures, particularly in public washrooms and shower facilities in campgrounds.

There is also still a travel ban in place for northern Manitoba (north of the 53rd parallel), with exceptions for essential travel. People hoping to book a reservation in a campground north of Lake Winnipeg should confirm the travel ban has been lifted before going.

Manitoba campers can expect a new set of rules at provincial campgrounds this year aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

As for day camps, there is more variety in what will be opening soon and what won’t be. While overnight camps are still not allowed, day camps can still accommodate up to 16 kids per site.

But for many campers, there are still questions about how the new rules — which say people need to stay at least two metres away from each other, except for brief exchanges — will jibe with the very nature of day camps.

The director of the Manitoba Camping Association said five summer camps have already made the decision to close. They include camps for kids with cancer and diabetes, along with the Tim Hortons camp in the Whiteshell and a bible camp up north.

Other organizations — like the Manitoba Theatre for Young People and the University of Manitoba’s Mini U program — said they’re hopeful their summer camps will go ahead, but it’s still too early to say for sure.

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