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Small Outdoor Gatherings Once Again Permitted

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On Wednesday, June 9, the provincial government announced updated public health orders which will take effect this upcoming Saturday. Although the rules are largely unchanged, there is one significant alteration which will allow Manitobans to get the most out of the warm weather.

Small outdoor gatherings will once again be permitted, both on public and private property. Up to five people will be allowed in either circumstance, beginning this weekend.

“Thanks to the efforts of Manitobans who have worked hard, stayed home, followed the fundamentals and rolled up their sleeves to get a vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones, we’re starting to see our COVID-19 case numbers trend in the right direction,” says Premier Brian Pallister. “While we are now in a position to allow some small gatherings outdoors, we are not yet ready to restart our services and activities as our health-care system is still facing significant pressures.”

The province’s other restrictions will remain in place for the next couple of weeks:

• indoor public gatherings are not permitted and visitors are not permitted indoors on private property, except in certain circumstances.
• requirements for employers to allow employees to work from home as much as possible.
• retail businesses may only operate at 10 percent capacity or 100 customers, whichever is fewer, and only one person per household will be allowed to enter a business, with some exceptions, such as a single parent with children or someone who requires a caregiver.
• continued requirements for malls to manage capacity and access to eliminate gatherings and ensure compliance with shopping.
• many businesses and organizations will remain closed for in-person service including gyms and fitness clubs, restaurants and bars (including patios), personal service businesses, museums, galleries, and libraries.

As was announced last week, schools in Winnipeg, Brandon, and in the Red River Valley and Garden Valley school divisions will continue remote learning until the end of the school year. Schools in Morden and Dauphin will continue remote learning at least until June 21.

Although the public health orders allow for outdoor gatherings, people are reminded to minimize the number of people they interact with as much as possible during this time. Physical distancing and masks are recommended in outdoor settings for non-household members. While the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in outdoor settings is lower than indoors, transmission can still occur when there is close contact.

“As our case numbers and test positivity rates start to drop and vaccination rates continue to rise, we can start to slowly ease some restrictions to allow people to gather outdoors, where there is a lower risk of transmission,” says Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “But given the demands on the healthcare system, we’re not in a position to open everything at once. We know this has been hard, but we need to continue to stay home, work from home as much as we can, follow the fundamentals and get vaccinated as soon as possible to ease the pressure on the health system.”

In a recent feedback survey Manitobans were asked what first steps should be taken to ease public health restrictions while balancing the needs of the health-care system. The survey indicated that 93 percent of respondents said the ability to gather with friends and family outdoors on private property would improve their quality of life significantly.

Additionally, 85 percent indicated the ability to gather with friends and family in outdoor public places would improve their quality of life.

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