This blog was originally published on April 29, 2020.

The Manitoba government first introduced Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba’s Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery on April 29, 2020. This announcement set out the province’s multi-phased plan to gradually lift restrictions on Manitoba businesses and services, which launched on May 4, 2020.

On July 21, the Government of Manitoba announced its draft plan for phase four of the province’s reopening plan, which can be accessed here. After seeking public feedback and consultation, the Government of Manitoba announced its finalized phase four plan on July 23 and issued public health orders on July 24. Phase four launched on July 25.

Update: As a result of the concerning increase of COVID-19 cases in the City of Winnipeg and surrounding areas, public health officials introduced new measures and elevated the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System level for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region to Restricted (orange), effective September 28. Masks are mandatory in all indoor public places. Also, all private and public gatherings are restricted to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors. These public health measures apply to the geographic area of the City of Winnipeg and several communities and rural municipalities outside of Winnipeg.

The four phases of the province’s reopening plan are reflected in two new public health orders issued on October 7 (the “General Orders” and the “Capital Region Orders”) under The Public Health Act (Manitoba), which replace and terminate the public health orders issued on September 28.

For further details on the measures to be implemented in phase four, please see the phase four section below or read our Phase Four of Manitoba’s Reopening Plan blog.

The province has indicated that it will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity throughout its reopening and lift or change certain restrictions in stages. If results during or at the end of each phase are unfavourable, the province will not proceed with further easing of public health measures, and may reintroduce others.

A summary of the public health orders relating to self-isolation and travel restrictions, can be found in our Manitoba Issues Public Health Orders Imposing Self-Isolation for Persons Entering Manitoba and Restricting Travel Within the Province blog.

Set forth below is a summary of the province’s multi-phased plan.

Began on May 4.

Phase one provided that priority elective surgeries and diagnostic screening could resume. Also, numerous non-essential businesses, mainly in the retail sector, were allowed to reopen; however, this measure was optional and a business could choose not to reopen at that time.

Retail businesses and services permitted to reopen during phase one included:

  • clothing and shoe stores;
  • jewellers;
  • tailors;
  • flower shops;
  • lodges and outfitters;
  • sporting good/adventure stores;
  • vaping supply shops;
  • boats dealers;
  • ATV and snowmobile dealers;
  • gift, book and stationery stores;
  • jewelry and accessory stores;
  • toy stores;
  • music, electronic and entertainment stores;
  • pawn shops;
  • pet groomers; and
  • similar businesses.

Qualifying retailers planning to reopen were required to limit occupancy levels to 50% of normal business levels or one person per 10 square metres, whichever was lower, in order to allow staff and customers to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.

Generally, restaurants would remain closed except for delivery, take-out and patio or walk-up food service. Patrons would need to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.

All businesses were required to ensure that their employees used the self-screening tool before attending work and to follow the reopening guidelines specified by the province. For the retail sector for instance, businesses were required to maintain a single point of entry and they could not have more than 10 people gathering in common areas.

For further information on sector-specific guidelines for Phase one, you can access the province’s Guide on Manitoba’s Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery.

Began June 1

Phase two was based on input from the public, education stakeholders, businesses and public health officials. To locate more details specific to phase two, you can access our Manitoba to Enter Phase Two of the Restoring Safe Services Plan blog.

Subject to public health orders, and provided that physical distancing measures could be followed, the following businesses/services were permitted to reopen during phase two:

The phase two plan also allowed limited access to school facilities.

Began June 21

On June 17, the province announced the finalized Restoring Services: Phase 3 Plan, which can be accessed here. Phase three started on June 21. Similar to phase two, the province sought public input before finalizing the changes set forth in the public health orders.

Subject to the public health orders, the following measures were implemented during phase three:

  • Increasing indoor and outdoor group gathering sizes and permitting larger group gatherings;
  • Easing self-isolation and northern travel restrictions on travellers entering Manitoba from Western Canada, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northwestern Ontario (the Northern Travel Order was terminated effective June 26);
  • Removing occupancy limits for retail businesses;
  • Removing occupancy limits for restaurants, bars, beverage rooms, brew pubs, microbreweries and distilleries;
  • Removing occupancy limits for all health professionals and therapeutic or health-care businesses;
  • Child-care centres can return to regular licensed capacity;
  • Self-isolation exemptions for professional sports and film production industries;
  • Introducing new guidance for indoor recreation and amusement centres;
  • Reopening permanent outdoor amusement parks;
  • K-12 schools actively planning for fall reopening;
  • Post-secondary institutions and vocational colleges actively planning for fall reopening;
  • Increasing day camp group sizes to 50;
  • Increasing community/service centre indoor occupancy levels;
  • Increasing senior centre/club indoor occupancy levels; and
  • Increasing golf cart capacity.

Further measures and a more detailed summary of phase three can be found in our phase three blog.

Began July 25

On July 23, the province announced the finalized Restoring Services: Phase 4 Plan, which can be accessed here. Phase four started on July 25. Similar to phase three, the province sought public input before finalizing the changes set forth in the phase four plan.

Update: As of September 28, masks are mandatory in all indoor public places. Also, all private and public gatherings are restricted to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors. These public health measures apply to the geographic area of the City of Winnipeg and several communities and rural municipalities outside of Winnipeg.

Update: As of October 7, the Province implemented certain restrictions on the restaurant and food industry in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Area.

Further measures and a more detailed summary of phase four can be found in our Phase Four of Manitoba’s Reopening Plan blog.

Individuals and corporations who violate emergency and public health orders may face fines of up to $50,000 or $500,000, and/or six months or up to a year in prison. Tickets can also be issued in the amount of $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses.

In addition, all persons who have been notified by public health officials that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19 through a close contact must self isolate for 14 days. Failure to self-isolate in accordance with the order could subject individuals to fines for non-compliance.

Future Phases

On July 20, the Government of Manitoba announced that it would be placing a bid to become the hub city for the Canadian Football League for the fall 2020 shortened season.

Following phase four, additional reopening steps will be considered and implemented if supported by evidence on a case-by-case basis.

As the situation evolves, Manitoba public health officials will make decisions based on evidence at the time, which may result in the following changes:

  • further opening of personal services businesses;
  • further opening of gyms and other recreation facilities;
  • further reviewing visitation policies in personal care and long-term care settings; and
  • further easing travel restrictions.

The province will neither permit overnight camps to open in the foreseeable future nor consider allowing mass gatherings and events until at least September 2020.

MLT Aikins will continue to monitor the situation and keep employers appraised of any further details. Employers considering the impact of the province’s plan and how it applies to their business should contact a member of our labour and employment team in Winnipeg.

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