Manitoba sets dates, restrictions for provincial phase two reopening

Manitoba will attempt to return to life as we knew it June 1. The province will move into phase two of a Manitoba-wide reopening plan on Monday.

Premier Brian Pallister announced the next stage of the plan at a news conference May 27. The plan is similar to what was proposed, including allowing some direct travel to northern Manitoba campgrounds and lodges.

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In total, the reopening will include increasing occupancy for child care centres to 24 children plus staff, increasing day camps to 24 kids, resuming some sports, arts and cultural activities, lifting occupancy limits at outdoor recreation facilities like golf courses as long as social distancing can be maintained and allowing gyms, pools, spas and other wellness areas to open with restrictions. Outdoor church services are allowed, as long as parishoners stay in their vehicles. Manicurists, pedicurists, estheticians and tattooists can reopn at 50 per cent capacity.

Restaurants, bars and other similar establishments can reopen indoor and outdoor services at 50 per cent capacity.

Pallister stressed the need for balance in building the provincial plan. Each business that is permitted to open is subject to restrictions and orders around social distancing remain in effect.

“This is what our small businesses want, so they can remain open and attract customers back to their operations,” Pallister said.

“This is what we all want - to ensure we are keeping each other safe when we go out, and that we’re able to keep employees safe when they go in to work.”

The province has been asking for input on its plan for around a week. Thousands of Manitobans filled out an online survey. Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin hosted a telephone town hall on the subject.

One of the new aspects of phase two is allowing some activities at post-secondary institutions. Some seniors centres will also be able to open in a very limited capacity.

“I would say it was consistent from Manitobans that they want us to remain careful and guarded,” Pallister said.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s clear we don’t want to risk the progress we’ve made by going too rapidly… A lot of the individual advice we received was along those lines.”

With the reopening, Manitoba could see an increase in the number of tests and positive cases of COVID-19, but Pallister told people not to overreact and pay attention to other numbers rather than simply the number of cases the province has detected.

“Don’t panic if we start to get some more positive tests,” he said. 

“There’s a danger in not proceeding the way we’re proceeding too. Everyone is then isolated, forced to be not active, forced to experience to a greater degree some of the mental health stresses that go with isolation. There’s pressure on both sides.”

Pallister stressed the need for considering the cost of other health strains and COVID-19 concerns throughout the press conference.

“We’re trying to strike the right balance,” he said.

“We’ll continuously monitor the situation and take what we hope will be the right decisions, not just for the short term, but for the long-term progress we want to see.”

The full phase two plan can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/covid19.

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