Manitoba Issues Updated Public Health Orders Imposing Self-Isolation for Persons Entering Manitoba and Removing Restrictions on Travel to Northern Manitoba and Remote Communities

This blog was originally published on April 21, 2020. It has been updated to reflect the changes that have been proposed as of October 13, 2020.

On April 17, 2020, the Government of Manitoba issued two public health orders under The Public Health Act (Manitoba) imposing mandatory self-isolation for all persons entering Manitoba and restricting northern travel within the province.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, both orders have been continually modified and extended.

While the orders pertaining to self-isolation in the province originally prohibited all persons from entering Manitoba without self-isolating subject to a number of enumerated exceptions, they were eventually loosened to allow those persons travelling from Western Provinces, the Territories, and Northwestern Ontario to travel into the province without self-isolating.

The order pertaining to northern travel also went through a number of revisions, and in June was terminated in its entirety, but was later re-implemented in response to the increased surge of COVID-19 cases in the province.

The most recent orders pertaining to both self-isolation and northern travel took effect October 13, 2020, and can be accessed here: Orders Under the Public Health Act (Self-Isolation) – COVID-19 Prevention Orders; Orders Under the Public Health Act – Travel to Northern and Remote Communities (the “Self-Isolation Order” and the “Northern Travel Order”).

As detailed in the summary below, the Updated Self-Isolation Order and Northern Travel Order may impact employers operating in Manitoba, as well as employers from other Canadian jurisdictions with employees who travel to and from, and within, Manitoba. While the order alleviates some of the restrictions on inter-provincial labour mobility, the restriction has not been removed in its entirety. Further, the Self-Isolation Order does not eliminate the need for employers in Manitoba to continue to monitor and assess the health of their workforce, including workers travelling into Manitoba from out of province, so as to diligently prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

More details respecting the province’s multi-phased reopening plan can be found in our blog, “Manitoba’s Plan for Reopening Businesses”.

The Self-Isolation Order

The Self-Isolation Order requires that any person entering Manitoba, including persons arriving from other provinces or territories in Canada, must self-isolate for 14 days or, if they are in Manitoba for less than 14 days, for the duration of their time in Manitoba.

Persons entering Manitoba who are required to self-isolate for 14 days must travel directly to the home, hotel or residence in which they intend to reside for the 14-day isolation period or duration of their stay if it is less than 14 days.

Persons self-isolating may only leave their home, hotel or residence to receive urgent/emergency medical care, attend a medical appointment that cannot be postponed or undertake essential errands where home delivery is not possible. If an individual leaves their residence for an above stated reason, they must maintain physical distancing of two metres from other persons and immediately return to their residence upon completing the appointment/errand.

If a person subject to the Self-Isolation Order develops symptoms of COVID-19, they must immediately contact a health care provider.

However, the Self-Isolation Order does not apply to the following individuals:

  • Manitoba residents who have travelled to Western Canada or northwestern Ontario, if they have not travelled outside of Western Canada or northwestern Ontario and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • residents of Western Canada or northwestern Ontario, if they have not travelled to another country or any part of Canada outside of Western Canada or northwestern Ontario in the 14-day period immediately before entering or arriving in Manitoba and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • players, coaches, managers, training and technical staff and medical personnel employed by or affiliated with a professional sports team based in Manitoba, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • the cast and crew and other persons directly involved in a film production, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • persons who are transporting goods and materials into or through Manitoba, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • aircraft and train crew members, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • persons who are engaged in providing vital services in Manitoba, including health-care providers, police officers, emergency services personnel, corrections officers, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, social service workers, and elected officials and their staff;
  • persons engaged in the construction or maintenance of critical infrastructure in Manitoba, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • persons engaged in the construction or maintenance of any building, structure or other project, if the failure to complete the construction or maintenance on a timely basis would pose a threat to persons, property or the environment and they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • persons who are travelling into Manitoba to facilitate shared parenting arrangements, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • persons travelling into Manitoba for emergency medical purposes; or
  • persons who have completed the period of isolation required under an emergency order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada) elsewhere in Canada, if they travel directly to Manitoba immediately after their required period of isolation ends.

“Western Canada” includes British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and “northwestern Ontario” is the region of Ontario to the west of Terrace Bay.

In addition, a person entering Manitoba to visit a family member or friend who is in a health-care facility with a life-threatening illness/injury is required to self-isolate. However, they may leave the home, hotel or other residence where they are self-isolating to visit their family member or friend if the applicable health-care facility has authorized the visit and the visitor is not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.

Finally, as of October 13, 2020, the province has indicated that a person who travels to Manitoba to attend the funeral of a family member or friend may leave the home, hotel, or other residence where they are self-isolating to attend said funeral so long as such persons are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19.  Further, a person who travels to Manitoba to provide care to a family member or friend who is seriously ill but not in a health care facility and who is not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 may complete the period of self-isolation required (a) at the residence of the seriously ill person, and they may provide care to the ill person during the period of self-isolation; or (b) at a different location, but they may leave that location to provide care at the residence of the seriously ill person.

The province has indicated that consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to ease the restrictions for certain sectors where proposed plans for necessary travel are deemed satisfactory to address public health requirements.

Note however that persons travelling to Manitoba from outside of Canada are required to abide by the self-isolation requirements under the federal Quarantine Act.

The Northern Travel Order

Since April 17, the government of Manitoba has issued public health orders under The Public Health Act (Manitoba) restricting northern travel within the province. With certain exemptions, Manitobans were originally not permitted to travel to northern Manitoba (defined as north of the 53rd parallel) and remote communities, which are communities not connected to the provincial highway system by a year-round all-weather road.

Certain measures were eased on May 29 and June 21, which were followed by the province removing all restrictions on travel to northern Manitoba and remote communities effective June 26.

On August 31, 2020, in light of the surge of COVID-19 cases in southern Manitoba, the province announced that it would be re-implementing travel restrictions to northern Manitoba and remote communities effective Thursday, September 3, and added a few additional exceptions effective October 13.

In addition, anyone travelling to northern Manitoba should continue to respect any restrictions that have been put in place by local and First Nations communities.

More details respecting the Northern Travel Order can be found in our blog Reinstated Travel Restrictions to Northern Manitoba and Remote Communities Effective September 4.

MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor for further amendments made to public health directives. Employers considering the impact of these orders should contact a member of our labour and employment team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.