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.
The province’s phase one plan to reopen businesses is reflected in public health orders under the Public Health Act (Manitoba), which will remain in effect until terminated (the “Reopening Orders”). Retail and other businesses and services listed in Schedules A and B of the Reopening Orders may open starting May 4 subject to restrictions set out in the Reopening Orders. The operators of businesses not listed in the above Schedules must remain closed for the period of May 4 to May 31. The Reopening Orders (as updated on May 21, and anticipated to be further updated before May 29) can be accessed here.
The province will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity throughout its reopening and lift or change certain restrictions in stages, which will require a period of at least three weeks per stage. 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.
On May 27, the province finalized its Restoring Services: Phase 2 plan (see phase two section below for more details). The province also announced that residents in personal care and long-term care settings can begin to receive visitors outdoors, subject to reasonable ability to physically distance by at least two metres, starting May 29.
As earlier announced on May 21, and as reflected in the Reopening Orders issued on May 21, the size of public gatherings has increased and some professional sports activities are able to resume, effective May 22.
The public health order limiting public gatherings of no more than 10 people was increased to permit indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people. Individuals who are gathering must ensure physical separation of at least two metres from others, except for brief exchanges. This change will apply to social gatherings, worship, weddings and funerals.
Individuals employed by or affiliated with professional sports teams are permitted to attend at the team’s facilities for the purposes of training and practising, provided that no members of the public are permitted to enter those facilities. Organized sport activities may also resume as long as certain precautions are taken, such as physical distancing and enhanced sanitization practices. Each sports organization and/or facility must establish a plan for how to minimize physical contact between participants, adhere to the travel restrictions currently in place and follow a number of sector-specific guidelines.
A summary of the public health orders relating to self-isolation and travel restrictions, extended indefinitely effective April 30, 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 provides that priority elective surgeries and diagnostic screening can resume. Also, numerous non-essential businesses, mainly in the retail sector, are allowed to reopen; however, this measure is optional and a business may choose not to reopen at this time.
Retail businesses and services permitted to reopen include:
- clothing and shoe stores,
- 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 are required to limit occupancy levels to 50% of normal business levels or one person per 10 square metres, whichever is lower, in order to allow staff and customers to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.
Generally, restaurants will remain closed except for delivery, take-out and patio or walk-up food service. Patrons will need to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres, except for brief exchanges.
All businesses are required to ensure that their employees use the self-screening tool before attending work and to follow the reopening guidelines specified by the province. For the retail sector for instance, businesses must maintain a single point of entry and they cannot have more than 10 people gathering in common areas.
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. By-Law Enforcement Officers continue to have the power to issue tickets in the amount of $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses.
For further information on sector-specific guidelines for Phase one, including therapeutic or health-care businesses, retail businesses, restaurants, hair stylists/barbers, museums, galleries and libraries, outdoor recreation facilities and golf courses, parks, campgrounds, yurts and vacation cabins, and day camps, please refer to the province’s Guide on Manitoba’s Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery.
Beginning June 1
On May 27, the province announced its finalized phase two plan, which will start effective June 1. The phase two plan is 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 to be issued, provided that physical distancing measures can be followed, the following businesses/services will be permitted to reopen during phase two:
The phase two plan also allows limited access to school facilities.
No sooner than June 12
Subsequent to phase two, additional reopening steps and loosening of restrictions will be considered. Based on data outcomes, the following changes may be made in subsequent phases:
- Relaxing occupancy limits of 50 % of normal business levels or one person per 10 square metres for retail services, therapeutic or health care businesses and hair stylists/barbers
- Fully reopening bars, beverage rooms, micro-brewers and similar businesses
- Reopening movie theaters, casinos, bingo halls and indoor recreational facilities, with capacity limitations
- Reopening amusement parks and similar outdoor recreation businesses
- Reopening other similar businesses with capacity limitations
During future phases physical distancing measures will remain in place though other public health measures and travel restrictions may be eased based on ongoing public health data and surveillance.
The province may develop additional guidelines and increase public gathering sizes. Certain non-essential businesses would fully open, and others would start to reopen.
The province is considering reopening schools on August 31, 2020.
The province will not consider allowing mass gatherings, including but not limited to, concerts, festivals and major sporting events, before 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.