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.

After seeking public feedback and consultation, the Government of Manitoba launched phase four of its reopening plan on July 25.

In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the test positivity rate in the province, significant public health measures have been introduced since November 2, details of which can be found in our blog.

The four phases of the province’s reopening plan are reflected in the new public health orders issued on November 11 (the “Manitoba Prevention Orders”), which moved the entire province of Manitoba to the critical (red) level on the province’s pandemic response system, effective November 12. The Manitoba Prevention Orders, which can be accessed here, terminate and replace the General Orders and the Capital Region and Southern Health Region Orders issued on November 6, and will remain in effect until December 11.

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 that has been implemented to date.

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 and included the reopening of live theatrical performance, movie theatres and casinos, among other changes. Similar to phase three, the province sought public input before finalizing the changes set forth in the phase four plan.

As of September 28, the wearing of masks in all indoor public places was made mandatory in the Winnipeg Metro Area.

Effective October 9, the province implemented certain restrictions on the restaurant and food industry in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Area.

Effective October 19, among other measures implemented, all private and public gatherings were lowered from a maximum of 10 to five people, and all entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls were closed.

The heightened and more restrictive measures introduced since November can be found in our Province-wide Critical (Red) Level Extended to January 8, 2021 in Manitoba blog. A more detailed summary of the measures implemented throughout 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 or be issued a ticket.

Effective October 21, the province increased fine amounts for failure to comply with public health and emergency orders. Ticket fines increased from $486 to $1,296 for individuals and from $2,542 to $5,000 for corporations.

As of November 18, individuals will face a specific fine of $298 if they fail to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces under the current public health orders and enforcement officials can issue the ticket fine to individuals violating the orders.

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.

Where an individual is symptomatic, or has a household member who is symptomatic, the entire household must self-isolate pending COVID-19 test results. The symptomatic individual must also stay in their own room, and to the greatest extent possible, use their own bathroom and avoid common areas.

Future Phases

The new province-wide measures introduced on November 12 remain in effect until January 8, 2021, subject to further extension or public health orders.

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. The Canadian Football League has since cancelled the fall 2020 shortened season.

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 public health orders and how they impact their business should contact a member of our labour and employment team in Winnipeg.

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