More people may be allowed at Winnipeg private gatherings, Manitoba’s top doctor says

WINNIPEG — With cases rising in Winnipeg, restrictions are now in place in the city and surrounding municipalities.

On Monday, the province officially elevated the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region to the restricted level, meaning masks are now mandatory in all indoor public places for people ages five and up, and all public and private gatherings are restricted to 10 people both indoors and outdoors.

“We’ve seen the effectiveness of these kinds of targeted response in the past, and Prairie Mountain Health is an example of that,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer. “As we raised the Pandemic Response Level there, we saw a relatively quick turnaround of the numbers.”

The Prairie Mountain Health Region was placed under regional restrictions on August 24, following a spike in COVID-19 cases, many related to several clusters in the area. The restrictions were eased less than four weeks later on Sept. 18.

The province has previously said these restrictions in the Winnipeg area will remain in place for at least four weeks, which is two incubation periods for the virus.

Roussin said for private gatherings, the maximum of 10 people does not include those living in the household.

He said, as an example, a family of six in a household could still have 10 people over as guests.

Roussin said all other existing health orders, including those in place for schools, childcare, museums, theatres, retail stores, casinos, and arenas, remain the same.

He said the province has been consulting with the restaurant industry, along with bars, beverage rooms, brewpubs, microbreweries, and distilleries, on steps to lower the risk of COVID-19. He said additional measures may be put in place following these consultations.

Roussin previously said about 50 per cent of recent cases of COVID-19 have been connected to bars and restaurants.

When asked why group sizes were being restricted, but not restaurants and bars, Roussin said group sizes form an important risk factor when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.

“Our interventions will almost always include group sizes because we know that is the biggest risk,” he said.

“We already have restrictions on bars and restaurants, and we are working now to try to improve that, so it is very likely we are going to see more interventions on it.”

He said, while these won’t necessarily be restrictions, some of the interventions may include ensuring health orders are followed throughout the evening, as well as looking at lowering the decibel levels within restaurants, as a louder volume can prompt people to speak closer and louder to each other and potentially spread COVID-19.

The restrictions are now in effect for the following areas:

  • City of Winnipeg;
  • City of Selkirk;
  • Town of Stonewall;
  • Rural Municipality (RM) of Cartier;
  • RM of Headingley;
  • RM of Macdonald;
  • RM of Ritchot;
  • RM of Rockwood;
  • RM of Rosser;
  • RM of Springfield;
  • RM of St. Andrews;
  • RM of St. Clements;
  • RM of St. François Xavier;
  • RM of Taché;
  • RM of West St. Paul;
  • RM of East St. Paul;
  • Town of Niverville; and
  • Village of Dunnottar.

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