Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin spoke jointly on Thursday, Nov. 19, bringing news of updated public health orders to eliminate non-essential shopping items, even from stores that carry essentials, and to further reduce socializing. The province also recently bolstered enforcement through a contract with a security force, G4S Canada who has undergone training to enforce the restrictions, as of this weekend.
“The public health orders introduced when Manitoba moved to Critical (red) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System were the most restrictive we had introduced since the beginning of this pandemic,” said Pallister. “However, despite those orders and strong recommendation from Dr. Roussin to ‘stay home’ at this critical point in our fight against COVID-19, too many Manitobans are gathering or shopping for non-essential purposes and creating a greater risk to public health. We are now at a point where even tighter restrictions are needed to significantly limit social contact in order to protect one another.”
Drug marts, grocery stores, convenience stores, big box stores, all stores will be scrambling to have physical barriers up to keep shoppers from those parts of the store stocked with non-essentials – by the stated deadline of Saturday morning. Stores who violate the order could face closure.
Many businesses who carry essentials often also offer jewelry, gifts and other non-essential items, but as early as Friday morning, Nov. 20, the public will not be able to purchase non-essentials, even if they carry them to the cash register.
At the Noon press conference Dr. Roussin was asked if Manitoba’s increasing restriction were flattening the COVID curve. Roussin replied that the curve has plateaued. The number of new cases has not continued to rise exponentially, as they might have; but the number of new cases are unsustainable.
Roussin was asked if the count of new cases at Reston School was an indicator that schools should be closed across the province.
He could not provide specific information about Reston school. He said that to this point, there have been very few inter-school transmissions and that in-class learning is valuable.
When asked if new shopping regulations were a move to protect small stores and even the playing field with large chain stores, Pallister said the leadership team decided on this added restriction against non-essential buying, together.
The premier further extended support to Manitoba’s chief medical officer: “This is the guy I trust,” he said, pointing to Roussin, “and this is the guy who’s going to stay in charge.”
The updated orders will further restrict gatherings at private residences, including a home, cottage or other vacation property, with some exceptions to allow child-care, health-care and home care services, tutoring services, construction or repairs, or to respond to emergencies. In addition, exceptions will be made for those who live on their own to have one other person visit their home.
In addition, people are prohibited from assembling in a gathering of more than five people at any indoor or outdoor public place including the common areas of a multi-unit residence, with the exception of a health-care facility or critical business that adheres to health protection measures. These measures are intended to allow for weddings, funerals and baptisms to take place with a capacity limit of five people. The province also recognizes the significant physical and mental health benefits from outdoor activities.
A retail business may open but may only sell only essential items in person, and must ensure compliance with capacity limits (25 per cent the usual capacity of the premise or 250 people, whichever is lower) and implement measures to ensure physical distancing.
Retailers can continue to sell essential or non-essential items online, by telephone or by remote means for delivery or curb-side pickup. A list of essential and non-essential items is set out in the orders and in the backgrounder attached.
The province recently announced a number of increased enforcement measures that will help uphold these new orders including a contract with G4S Canada to boost COVID-19 enforcement efforts to help protect Manitobans and ensure there are consequences for those who disregard public health and emergency orders.
Provincial employees are also dedicated to public health enforcement across the province including police, environment and conservation officers, public health and Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority inspectors, municipal bylaw officers, and security officers.
In all, almost 3,300 personnel across various enforcement agencies are empowered to enforce public health orders including the RCMP, municipal police agencies, the Health Protection Unit, Manitoba Conservation and Climate, Workplace Safety and Health, and the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority.
Manitobans are encouraged to contact the province’s enhanced tip line to voice their concerns and share information about possible breaches of public health orders.
Manitobans can report compliance and enforcement issues by visiting www.manitoba.ca/COVID19 and completing the reporting form, or by calling 204-945-3744 or 1-866-626-4862 (toll-free) and pressing option three on the call menu. Since April 9, there have been more than 13,500 calls from citizens to report concerns.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/COVID19.
The orders and the list of items deemed essential will be posted on the province’s Pandemic Response System website at: