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Province Slightly Loosens Pandemic Restrictions

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Roussin Crop
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial health officer. Government of Manitoba

At a press conference on January 21, Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin announced that the time has come to slightly relax some of the pandemic restrictions that are currently in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Despite these welcome changes, however, the province continues to urge caution, and the entire province will remain at the critical (red) level on the pandemic response system.

The new public health orders will take effect on Saturday, January 23 and remain in place for three weeks. In mid-February, the province will re-evaluate how these loosened restrictions have played out in terms of their public health impact.

These changes will apply to all regions of the province with the notable exception of the Northern Health Region, including Churchill, where the rate of epidemic spread continues to be very high.

A key change is that each household will be allowed to designate two people who they are allowed to socialize with. These two people should be your only social contacts during the upcoming three-week period.

In addition, groups of five will be allowed to gather while outdoors. Also, funeral attendance will be expanded to 10.

Here are the specifics of the revised public health orders:

• household limits: orders will be expanded to allow increased personal connections to support the well-being of Manitobans by allowing: two designated people (family or friends) to visit a household under a new ‘rule of two’; outdoor visits of up to five people only plus members of a household on an outdoor private property; and funerals to have up to 10 people in addition to the officiant under clear COVID-19 protection protocols.
• retail operations: orders will be expanded to eliminate the essential items list, allowing all stores to open for the sale of products provided they maintain physical distancing and occupancy limits of 25 per cent only or a maximum of 250 people, whichever is lower.
• health and personal services: orders will be expanded to allow for the operation of basic services that promote physical and mental health for Manitobans: non-regulated health services, such as pedorthists and reflexologists, to reopen with adequate physical distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes; and barber shops and hair stylists to reopen at 25 per cent capacity with adequate physical distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes.

The province wants to reiterate that Manitobans need to continue exercising caution, and that further changes to the public health orders will be monitored carefully.

“Our collective progress in bending the COVID curve means we can undertake these careful, measured openings,” says Dr. Roussin. “But we must stick to the fundamentals of physical distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask in our daily lives to keep this success going.”

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