MB Caution (Yellow): Province Announces New Public Health Measures

On October 30 the Government of Manitoba announced province-wide changes to its #RestartMB Pandemic Response System in response to the surge of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the increasing test positivity rate.

On November 12, all health regions across Manitoba moved to the critical (red) level, and remained at that level until June 25. On June 26, all health regions were moved back to the restricted (orange) level in addition to the easing of restrictions. The Province further moved into the caution (yellow) level on August 7.

This blog summarizes various measures and restrictions the province has implemented and lifted since November 12.

UPDATE:

On September 2, the Province introduced new public health  restrictions in addition to those announced on August 27  relating to events/activities only accessible to fully vaccinated individuals.

Effective Friday, September 3, only fully immunized individuals will be able to participate in or attend at the following events/activities/establishments:

  • restaurants (indoor and patio dining);
  • nightclubs and all other licensed premises;
  • fitness centres, gyms and indoor sporting and recreational facilities (excluding youth recreational sport);
  • indoor and outdoor ticketed sporting events and concerts;
  • indoor theatre/dance/symphony events;
  • casinos, bingo halls and VLT lounges;
  • movie theatres; and
  • organized indoor group recreational classes and activities, and indoor recreational businesses.

Children born after December 31, 2009 who are not eligible to be immunized will be able to attend events and activities with a fully immunized adult.

Effective Tuesday, September 7, the following restrictions will be in place:

  • reducing the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings from 1500 to 500. The limit includes summer fairs and festivals though they may be allowed to operate above that limit, subject to protocols approved by public health;
  • allowing museums and galleries to open, but they will be required to ask for proof of vaccination from visitors to access indoor areas; and
  • requiring food courts to comply with the same rules as restaurants for dine-in patrons and, if food courts choose to open for options other than take-out, patrons will be required to provide proof of vaccination

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, again noted that public health officials recommend private businesses and organizations follow the province’s lead and consider mandating COVID-19 vaccination for their employees. See our blog Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination for Many Manitoba Front-Line Employees for more information.

Summary of August 28 Measures

The province re-introduced the requirement that persons entering or remaining in an indoor public place must wear a mask.

Summary of August 7 Measures

In addition to the province lifting restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences, the following sectors were permitted to open without restrictions:

  • retail businesses;
  • gyms and fitness centres;
  • personal services, such as hair and nail salons;
  • libraries;
  • markets;
  • garden centres;
  • malls; and
  • day camps.

Other Sectors Permitted to Open with Limited Restrictions

Restaurants and bars were no longer subject to a capacity limit, separation requirements or restricted operating hours. There were no group limits for indoor and outdoor dining, and immunization cards were no longer required to access certain services. However, patrons were still expected to avoid congregating or socializing between tables.

Museums, galleries and movie theatres opened up to all individuals (not only fully vaccinated people) though capacity remained at 50%.

Casinos and bingo halls, professional sporting events, horse and auto racing, and concert halls would continue to be limited to fully vaccinated individuals; however, these facilities could open to 100% capacity.

Remote Work and Use of Masks

To note, remote working was no longer required or recommended by public health. Workplaces were encouraged to transition from COVID-19 safety plans to a general communicable disease prevention plan that focuses on reducing the risk of workplace transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. However, workplaces must continue to report cases to the government for follow-up and may be ordered to close for a minimum of 10 days where transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace has been confirmed.

In addition, the province announced that the mandatory mask mandate for indoor public spaces would be lifted, but that masks were strongly recommended in indoor public settings for unvaccinated individuals, including children under 12.

For more information on the Province’s reopening plan, visit our Manitoba’s Four-Step Reopening Plan for Summer 2021 blog.

Summary of July 17 Measures

Gatherings

  • permitting gatherings at private residences to a maximum of five (5) people in indoor spaces, and 25 people in outdoor spaces, plus the household members;
  • permitting indoor gatherings in public spaces to a maximum of 25 people in indoor spaces, and 150 people in outdoor spaces;

Retail Businesses

  • increasing capacity at retail businesses to 50% or 500 people, whichever is lower

Restaurants, License Premises and Food Courts

  • increasing capacity at restaurants, licensed premises and food court capacities to 50%:
  • maintaining outdoor maximum table sizes at eight (8) people;
  • maintaining that patrons may sit together indoors if they are from the same household or if all patrons 12 years of age or older are fully immunized (unvaccinated children under 12 may dine with fully vaccinated members of their household in this case);
  • extending opening hours to midnight;
  • lifting the requirement to purchase food when ordering alcohol; and
  • permitting VLTs to operate while all other restaurant/bar rules apply (i.e., two-metre distance, only households or fully vaccinated people seated together).

Other Employers

  • maintaining the capacity of personal services (haircuts and styling, nail salons, estheticians and massage) at 50%, with appointments no longer required;
  • increasing gym and fitness centre capacities to 50%; masks and increased physical distancing (three metres) are still required; and
  • permitting libraries to open at 50% capacity to a maximum of 150 people, whichever is lower.

Fully Immunized Individuals

A person considered to be fully immunized against COVID-19:

  1. has received two doses of the Pfizer — BioNTech , Moderna or AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine for COVID-19 or two doses of any combination of those vaccines within a 16-week period and at least 14 days have passed since they received their last vaccine dose; or
  2. has received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and at least 14 days have passed since they were vaccinated.

Movie theatres, bingo halls, VLT lounges, casinos, museums and galleries were permitted to reopen for fully immunized individuals only, to a maximum capacity of 50%

Fully immunized individuals were also permitted to attend large-scale, outdoor professional sports or performing arts events, which could operate with capacities up to 100% after developing an approved event plan in consultation with public health.

Summary of June 26 Measures

  • increasing outdoor gathering sizes on private property to 10 persons and allowing outdoor visitors to briefly access homes for essential activities (e.g., to use a washroom);
  • increasing public outdoor gathering sizes to 25 persons;
  • increasing the capacity at retail businesses to 25% to a limit of 250 persons, with no restrictions on the number of household members permitted to shop together;
  • permitting personal service businesses (e.g., hair and nail salons, estheticians, barbers, etc.) to reopen at 50% capacity, on an appointment basis only;
  • permitting restaurants and bars to reopen at 25% capacity for indoor dining. Patrons seated together must be from the same household unless all patrons at the table are fully immunized. Patrons who are fully immunized and from different households may dine together;
  • permitting restaurants and bars to reopen at 50% for outdoor dining. Tables are limited to a maximum of 8 patrons and can be from different households regardless of immunization status; and
  • permitting gyms and fitness facilities to reopen for individual and group fitness classes at 25% capacity with three metres distance maintained between patrons.

There were no changes to the restrictions on casinos, VLTs, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres and concert halls. Further, employers continued to be required to allow employees to work from home where possible.

The Province indicated that fully immunized Manitobans (i.e., two vaccine doses plus two weeks from the time of their second dose) would benefit from certain exemptions, such as being able to dine indoors at restaurants and bars with other fully immunized friends and family from outside their household and being exempt from the 14-day self-isolation period upon returning to Manitoba from essential or non-essential travel. Further, the Province indicated that fully immunized Manitobans may be able to attend large-scale, outdoor professional sports or performing arts events, and that additional benefits would be announced in July.

Summary of June 12 Measures

A household and up to five individuals, who did not reside at more than two different private residences, could gather outdoors on private property. Up to five individuals were permitted to gather at an outdoor public place. In addition, the measures introduced on May 29 were otherwise extended to June 26 at 12:01 a.m.

Summary of May 29 Measures

In addition to the measures introduced over the Victoria Day long-weekend, such as prohibiting all gatherings of persons outside a household and permitting only one person per household to enter a business, the following restrictions were implemented:

  • requiring employers to allow employees to work from home as much as possible; and
  • increasing requirements for malls to manage capacity and access to eliminate gatherings and ensure compliance with shopping.

To note, the public health orders require employers, who become aware that two or more persons working at the same location at the business or facility have contracted COVID-19, to immediately notify the chief provincial public health officer. An employer must also provide information respecting the location of the business or facility and the COVID-19 cases. Notification must be provided by sending an e-mail to mgi@gov.mb.ca or by phoning (204) 945-3744 or 1-866-626-4862.

The province further extended the closure (i.e., remote learning) of kindergarten to grade 12 schools in the cities of Winnipeg and Brandon, as well as the Red River and Garden Valley school divisions to June 7. Similarly, schools in Dauphin continued remote learning until June 9.

The chief provincial public health officer also indicated the he would utilize health-hazard orders to close businesses, if necessary, where there are multiple COVID-19 cases and transmission is a risk.

Summary of May 26 Measures

On May 25, the Province of Manitoba announced that the public health measures implemented on May 22 would be extended to Saturday, May 29 at 12:01 p.m.

Summary of May 22 Measures

The following restrictions took effect on Saturday, May 22 at 12:01 a.m., and were to remain in effect until May 26:

  • prohibiting outdoor gatherings with anyone from outside a household, including at all recreation spaces such as playgrounds, golf courses, parks and sports fields; and
  • permitting only one person per household to enter a business, with some exceptions, such as a single parent with children, or someone who requires a caregiver.

The new public health orders define a “gathering” as a “grouping of persons in general proximity to each other who have assembled for a common purpose or reason, regardless of whether it occurs in public or at a private residence or on other private property, but does not include (a) a gathering in which all persons are residents of the same private residence; and (b) a gathering of employees at a business or facility or persons who are working at a worksite.”

Summary of May 9 Measures

The following restrictions were implemented on Sunday, May 9, among other measures:

Gatherings

  • limiting outdoor gatherings to a maximum of five people, including people from multiple households
  • prohibiting indoor community, cultural and religious gatherings

Businesses

  • reducing the capacity at retail stores, markets and garden centres to 10% capacity, to a maximum of 100 people
  • reducing the capacity at malls to a maximum of 10% of the facility’s capacity
  • closing restaurants, bars and patios to in-person dining (take-out and delivery services can continue to operate)
  • closing gyms and fitness centres
  • closing personal services such as estheticians, barbers, salons and tanning salons
  • casinos to remain closed and closing VLTs
  • closing museums, galleries and libraries

The Government of Manitoba further announced on Sunday May 9, that all K-12 schools in the cities of Winnipeg and Brandon would close and move to remote learning effective Wednesday, May 12 until May 30. K-12 schools located outside of Winnipeg and Brandon would also be subject to further restrictions.

The province also made amendments to the preset fines issued for violating public health orders with respect to individuals who have received two or more tickets. For those individuals, fines for failing to wear a mask have been increased from $298 to $486 and fines for other penalties under the public health orders have been increased from $1,296 to $2,542. Further, the penalty for failing to pay a ticket on time was doubled from $50 to $100.

Summary of April 28 Measures

The following restrictions were implemented on Wednesday, April 28, among other measures:

Gatherings

  • prohibiting visitors from attending at private households either indoors or outdoors, with certain exceptions including allowing one visitor for people who live alone
  • permitting outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people in public outdoor spaces only

Businesses

  • limiting the capacity at retail stores to 25% or up to 250 patrons, whichever is lower
  • restricting patio dining to groups of no more than four people (no household restriction);
  • requiring gym/fitness centre patrons and staff to maintain physical distancing of three metres (nine feet) from others
  • allowing personal service businesses to continue operating at 50% capacity, though appointments are now required
  • limiting the capacity at malls to 25%
  • closing food courts in malls and shopping centres, with the exception of take-out and delivery sales

We encourage employers to review the most current public health orders, which will be in effect until Wednesday, May 26.

Summary of April 20 & 21 Measures

Effective Tuesday, April 20, all households may only have two designated visitors indoors, and outdoor gatherings on public and private property are limited to a maximum of 10 people, including household members.

Effective Wednesday, April 21, the capacity of retail stores must be limited to one-third of the store or up to 333 patrons, whichever is lower, and malls will be limited to 33% of the facility’s capacity.

Summary of March 26 Measures

The province increased outdoor gathering sizes on public property to a maximum of 25 people and increased the capacity at retail businesses from 250 to 500 persons or 50% of the usual capacity of the premises, whichever is lower.

Summary of March 12 Measures

On March 12, the Province issued new public health orders, which took effect on March 13 and remained in effect until March 26.

Outdoor dining on patios at restaurants and licensed premises for groups of up to six people from different households were permitted.

Summary of March 5 Measures

On Friday, March 5, some revised restrictions took effect in all regions of Manitoba. The following is a summary of the public health measures implemented by the province of Manitoba, subject to the  public health orders:

Gatherings

  • households can continue to designate two visitors to their private residence, or households can choose to designate one other household to be part of each other’s “household bubble”;
  • increasing outdoor gathering sizes to 10 people in public or private spaces, including for recreational and non-organized sport activities; and
  • increasing capacity within places of worship to 25% or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Reopening of Businesses & Capacity

  • permitting businesses of any type to operate except for (1) indoor theatres, (2) concert halls and (3) casinos and gaming centres where food is not served and no gaming activities take place;
  • increasing capacity within retail stores, malls and personal services establishments to 50% or 250 people, whichever is lower;
  • increasing capacity within restaurants and licensed establishments to 50%, while continuing to limit patron groups to members of the same household;
  • permitting businesses other than casinos to resume operating video lottery terminals;
  • permitting professional theatre groups, dance companies, symphonies and operas to resume rehearsals that are not accessible to the public;
  • permitting indoor recreation and sporting facilities to operate at 25% capacity with physical distancing measures in all places of the facilities;
  • permitting gyms and fitness centres to resume group and personal training at 25% capacity; patrons must continue to wear a mask within the facilities at all times;
  • permitting dance, theatre and music schools to operate at 25% capacity for individual instruction and group classes; and
  • permitting day camps to operate at 25% capacity with physical distancing measures in place.

Summary of February 12 Measures

On Friday, February 12, a number of changes to public health orders took effect in all regions of the province, and remained in effect until March 5.

The following section details some of the major restrictions that took effect on Friday, February 12:

  • non-licensed restaurants can reopen at 25% capacity subject to the following additional measures being taken:
    • limiting patron groups to members of the same household;
    • physical distancing is in place between tables;
    • gathering contact tracing information from patrons;
    • not serving buffet style food;
    • not permitting the use of hookahs or other types of water pipes in the premises;
    • not offering dine-in service between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • licensed establishments can reopen at 25% capacity subject to the following additional measures being taken:
    • limiting patron groups to members of the same household;
    • allowing a maximum of five people per table;
    • physical distancing is in place between tables;
    • patrons must remain at their tables except for using washroom facilities;
    • gathering contact tracing information gathered from patrons
    • liquor service must be accompanied by a meal
    • not permitting the use of hookahs or other types of water pipes in the premises;
    • no liquor service between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
    • no dine-in service between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • gyms, fitness centres and yoga studios can reopen at 25% capacity subject to the following additional measures being taken:
    • physical distancing is in place;
    • masks must be worn at all times inside the facility;
    • limiting change facilities to only washroom access;
    • only permitting individual workouts or one-on-one training;
    • not permitting group activities or classes; and
    • gathering contract tracing information from patrons.
  • personal service businesses, such as those providing pedicures, electrolysis, cosmetic application, tanning, tattooing or massage services can reopen at 25% capacity with contact tracing and physical distancing measures in place;
  • indoor sporting facilities such as rinks, gymnastic clubs and martial arts studios can reopen at 25% capacity for individual instruction only;
  • the film industry can operate fully with physical distancing and other safety measures in place;
  • photographers and videographers can provide services to individual clients or those residing in the same household in addition to wedding services, with the exception of visiting client homes;
  • museums, art galleries and libraries may operate at 25% capacity, with contact tracing information gathered from patrons; and
  • a food court in a shopping centre or mall may open if the operator of the shopping centre or mall ensures that the number of people in the food court does not exceed 25% site capacity and takes reasonable steps to ensure that all persons seated at a table reside in the same residence; and
  • places of worship are permitted to hold regular religious services with physical distancing in place, at 10% of usual capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower.

As the northern region was previously under separate orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in northern Manitoba, the new public health orders also bring the region under the same restrictions as the rest of the province.

The following changes will also apply to northern Manitoba:

  • a household may have up to two designated people visit inside their home;
  • five people plus members of a household may gather on an outdoor private property;
  • retail stores may open at 25% capacity or 250 people maximum with adequate physical distancing; and
  • non-regulated health services, hair salons and barbershops may open with 25% capacity and adequate physical distancing.

Individuals and employers need to take necessary steps to ensure compliance with orders made under The Public Health Act and The Emergency Measures Act. The province made amendments to the Preset Fines and Offence Descriptions Regulation (“PFODR”) under The Provincial Offences Act to allow enforcement officers to issue tickets with set fines for failure to comply with the emergency orders. Effective October 21, total fine amounts were increased to $1,296 for tickets issued to individuals, including sole proprietorships and partnerships, and $5,000 for tickets issued to corporations. As of November 18, individuals will face a specific fine of $298 if they fail to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

Summary of January 23 Measures

On Saturday, January 23, modest changes to public health orders took effect in most regions of the province until February 12. In northern Manitoba, however, the restrictions were not eased.

Across the province (northern Manitoba excepted), the following measures took effect on January 23.

Household Limits

A household may (a) have two designated persons, either family members or friends, who can visit inside their household, and (b) have a visit of up to five people plus household members on their outdoor private property.

Up to 10 people may attend at a funeral in addition to the officiant.

Retail Operations

The essential items list has been eliminated, thereby allowing all stores to open for the sale of products. Store operators must ensure to maintain physical distancing and an occupancy limit of 25% or a maximum of 250 people, whichever is lower.

Health and Personal Services

Non-regulated health services, such as reflexologists, may reopen with adequate physical distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes.

Barber shops and hair stylists may reopen at 25% capacity with adequate physical distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes.

Summary of January 8 Measures

On January 8, the province extended the heightened measures implemented on December 9 for another two weeks, which would remain in effect until January 22.

The Updated Manitoba Prevention Orders introduced a minor modification to allow for exemptions for all professional hockey teams to participate in games and training.

Summary of December 22 Measures

Olympic athletes in training are exempt from certain restrictions under public health orders.

Summary of December 12 Measures

The province extended the previous public health orders implemented on November 20 and introduced a number of changes that would remain in effect from 11:59 p.m. on December 11 until January 8, 2021.

The following is a summary of the public health measures:

Group Gatherings

In addition to the earlier exceptions, a person may enter another person’s private residence for the purpose of moving a person into or out of that residence. If a person operates a business that is permitted to open under these orders at their private residence, other persons may attend at the person’s residence for the purposes related to the operation of that business.

A person who is obtaining technical training at a university or college  and who does not normally reside in the community where the university or college is located may reside at the private residence of another person in the community where the university or college is located.

The restrictions on group gatherings do not apply to an organized outdoor gathering (including those relating to places of worship) where persons attend in a motor vehicle, so long as:

  • all persons stay in their motor vehicle at all times while at the site of the gathering or event;
  • the persons in a motor vehicle do not interact with any person not in their motor vehicle while at the site of the gathering or events; and
  • all persons in a motor vehicle reside in the same residence or receive caregiving services form another person in the motor vehicle.

Retail Business

Retail businesses may open to sell seasonal items in addition to essential items the list of which was slightly modified.

Retail businesses which primarily sell used clothing, footwear, or household items are permitted to reopen.

Additional Changes

Acupuncturists and osteopathic therapists may accept patients and deliver health-care services.

Food banks and other charities or groups that provide or distribute food or hampers to persons in need may operate if measures are implemented to ensure that staff, volunteers and members of the public are able to adequately physically distance.

Summary of November 20 Measures

The Government of Manitoba implemented stricter measures on November 20, 2020, a summary of which follows:

Close Contacts and Group Gatherings

  • a person who resides in a private residence (including cottages and other vacation property) must not permit a person who does not normally reside in that residence to enter or remain in the residence, with the exception of the following circumstances:
    1. a person who lives on their own may have one other person with whom they regularly interact attend at their private residence and may attend at the private residence of that one person;
    2. a person may enter a private residence of another person to:
      • provide health-care, personal care or home care services;
      • allow a parent or guardian to visit a child who does not normally reside with that child;
      • receive or provide child care;
      • provide tutoring or other educational instruction;
      • perform construction, renovations, repairs or maintenance;
      • deliver items;
      • provide real estate or moving services; or
      • respond to an emergency
    3. a person is permitted to briefly enter onto the exterior portion of a person’s property (for example, to drop off a delivery);
  • people are prohibited from assembling in a gathering of more than five people at any indoor or outdoor public place or in the common areas of a multi-unit residence, with the exception of a health-care, social services and public and private school facilities, or critical business that adheres to health protection measures.

Retail Business

  • a retail business may open but may only sell essential items in person. By no later than 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, November 21, operators of retail businesses must ensure that:
    1. non-essential items are removed from areas of the business to which members of the public have access;
    2. members of the public are physically prevented from gaining access to non-essential items at the business; and
    3. signs in the business or stickers on items in the business clearly identify non-essential items that cannot be purchased by members of the public at the business
  • The public health orders set out the lists of essential and non-essential items.
  • The above requirements do not apply to retail businesses in northern Manitoba, except for retail businesses in Thompson, Flin Flon and The Pas.
  • Retail businesses must also:
    1. limit the number of members of the public shopping at the business to 25% of the usual capacity of the premises or 250 people, whichever is lower;
    2. implement measures to ensure that members of the public attending the business are reasonably able to maintain a separation of at least two metres from other members of the public;
    3. establish a system to ensure compliance with the capacity limits; and
    4. provide proof the capacity limits have not been exceeded on request from a person authorized to enforce these orders, at the time the request is made.
  • Retail businesses may continue to sell essential or non-essential items online, by telephone or by remote means for delivery or curb-side pickup.
  • These retail restrictions apply to businesses that are not addressed in Schedule A of the Updated Manitoba Prevention Orders. For example, liquor and cannabis stores may continue to open and sell products.

Summary of November 12 Measures

On November 10, the province announced that all health regions in Manitoba would be moving to the critical (red) level effective 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 12. Dr. Roussin indicated that the measures would be in effect for four weeks, which represents two incubation periods.

Public health orders were issued on November 11 (the “Manitoba Prevention Orders”) and took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 12. The Manitoba Prevention Orders applied to all areas of Manitoba, and would remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on December 11, subject to further extension or public health orders.

Public and Private Group Gatherings

The limit on public and private group gathering was five people, and applied to ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, and informal gatherings such as dinners and house parties.

The province strongly recommended that Manitobans stay home and reduce their social contacts to household members only; however, the Manitoba Prevention Orders still allowed gatherings of up to five people. Dr. Roussin discouraged Manitobans from having social gatherings or socializing with individuals outside of their household, and stated that gatherings of more than five people from outside a single household are subject to fines.

The five-person limit did not apply to:

  • a facility where health care or social services are provided;
  • household members for private gatherings inside the home;
  • a business or facility that is allowed to open under public health orders if the operator of the business or facility has implemented measures in accordance with public health orders; and
  • employees on the premises of a business or facility that is allowed to open under public health orders.

Closures & Religious Ceremonies

Manitoba Critical Red Closures

Critical Services

Manitoba Critical Red Level | List of Critical Services

Travel & Self-Isolation

Travel to northern Manitoba continued to be restricted and non-essential travel is discouraged.

For more information on current travel and self-isolation restrictions, see our Manitoba travel restrictions blog.

Wearing of Face Masks

Face masks must be worn in all indoor public spaces and individuals must ensure that their mask covers their mouth, nose and chin without gapping.

The operator of an indoor public space must ensure that every person who is not wearing a mask while in the indoor public place is given a reminder to do so as soon as practicable.

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

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.