‘We are left with no choice’: Manitoba’s top doctor puts new restrictions on gatherings

WINNIPEG — New restrictions in Manitoba will limit the number of people allowed to gather in private homes to further halt the spread of COVID-19.

The enhanced orders, announced on Thursday by Premier Brian Pallister and chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin, will take effect on Friday, Nov. 20.

The orders come one week after strict public health measures were put in place to get Manitobans to reduce their contacts. Roussin has made repeated pleas for Manitobans to stay at home and has warned of stretched hospital capacity in the province.

“Despite that, we saw people gathering at rallies, we saw crowded parking lots at big box stores, we saw people continue to go out for non-essential items — so we are left with no choice but to announce further measures to protect Manitobans to limit the spread of this virus,” said Roussin.

Under the new orders, gatherings at private residences, including homes, cottages, and other vacation properties, are restricted, and nobody is permitted aside from the people who live there. There are some exceptions to allow for child-care, health-care and home-care services, tutoring services, construction, repairs, and emergency response services

Those who live alone will be permitted to have one person visit their home

The public health order also provides an exception for a visit between a child and a parent/guardian who do not normally reside together.

The new orders also prohibit people from gathering in groups of more than five people at any indoor or outdoor public space. This includes the common areas of a multi-unit residence with the exception of a health-care facility or critical business that adheres to public health measures.

“Because the orders are strict, there is not really many indoor places where people can gather anymore,” Roussin said. “It does allow for instances such as weddings, funerals, other gatherings such as baptisms to take place, but that capacity limit is five.”

“We know there are significant physical and mental health benefits from being outside, staying active, and the risk of contracting the virus is much lower outdoors,” he added. “But even when observing the five person gathering limits for these specific situations, keep following basic public health advice.”

A date for when the restrictions will be lifted was not released, but Pallister said all Manitobans need to do their part to help flatten the curve to have the restrictions lifted.

“Unless everybody gets with the team and gets on Team Manitoba there isn’t going to be much chance for us to change any of these restrictions,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to do that unless everybody gets on the team, and we limit the number of contacts for a time here, and we do the circuit breaker Dr. Roussin talked about. That’s the goal. The goal here is to reduce those numbers of contacts down so much that when people get COVID, they haven’t already given it to a bunch of other people.”

Pallister urged Manitobans to follow the new orders.

“We’re bringing these difficult measures forward today to protect people and to save lives, and you have that power in your hands,” he said.

“So don’t rush out to the stores and take advantage during the next few hours of the opportunity to hurt yourself and others. Please don’t do that. And don’t gather and protest without a mask on, and endanger yourself and others. Do not do these things because if you do, you will be ticketed and you will be fined, but more importantly you will be placing yourself and others at risk. So I implore you, do the right thing,” Pallister said.

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