Manitoba Critical (Red) Level Extended to March 5 as Restrictions Ease

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.

Notably, such changes moved the Winnipeg Metro Region into the critical (red) level, and the Southern Health–Santé Sud, Prairie Mountain Health and Interlake–Eastern Health regions into the restricted (orange) level. On November 12, all health regions across Manitoba moved to the critical (red) level, and have since remained at this level.

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

Summary of February 12 Measures

UPDATE: On Friday, February 12, a number of changes to public health orders took effect in all regions of the province, and will remain in effect until March 5. The General COVID-19 Prevention Orders replace the January 28 “General COVID-19 Prevention Orders” and the February 1 “Northern Manitoba COVID-19 Prevention Orders”, and can be located here.

We encourage employers, businesses and organizations to review the new public health orders.

The following section details some of the major restrictions effective Friday, February 12 at 12:01 a.m., subject to the new public health orders:

  • 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.

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.

The Northern Manitoba Prevention Orders and the General Prevention Orders issued on January 21 terminated and replaced the previous public health orders issued on January 8. 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.

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.

December 22 Measures

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

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.

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.

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 terminated and replaced the Capital Health Region and Southern Health Region Orders and the Updated General Orders issued on November 6. Further, the Manitoba Prevention Orders apply to all areas of Manitoba, and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on December 11, subject to further extension or public health orders.

The Manitoba Prevention Orders do not apply to private and public schools. Further, in the event of any conflict between the Manitoba Prevention Orders and another order made under The Public Health Act that applies to a specific community or area, the other order prevails.

Public and Private Group Gatherings

The limit on public and private group gathering sizes remains at five people, and applies to ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, and informal gatherings such as dinners and house parties.

The province strongly recommends that Manitobans stay home and reduce their social contacts to household members only; however, the Manitoba Prevention Orders still allow 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 does 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

The travel and self-isolation restrictions remain unchanged from those set out in the public health orders issued on October 13. Travel to northern Manitoba continues 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.

Schools and Child-Care Services

There are no changes to child-care services or to the delivery of kindergarten to grade 12 education at this time.


For therapeutic care, regulated professions and massage therapists can continue to provide services.

Where non-urgent and elective surgeries and/or procedures may be impacted, patients will be contacted directly if their scheduled appointments or procedures are affected. Patients who are not contacted should show up to their appointments as scheduled.

In-patient visitation to hospitals or health centres will be suspended, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis. Designated family caregivers may continue to visit personal care homes. General visitation may be suspended with exceptions in place for end-of-life care. General visitation to outdoor visitation shelters will be implemented, once operational.

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.

To note, the following individuals are exempt from wearing a mask in indoor public spaces:

  • children under the age of five;
  • individuals with medical conditions unrelated to COVID-19, including breathing or cognitive difficulties, or a disability, that prevents them from safely wearing a mask;
  • any person unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person; and
  • persons who are seated, and
    • the seating is arranged in accordance with the applicable requirements set out in the public health orders, or
    • they are separated by at least two metres from other persons who are not sitting with that person, if the arrangement of seating in the place is not specifically addressed in the public health orders; and
    • who wear a mask at all times while moving to or from their seated position within the indoor public place.

Further, employees or agents of the operator of an indoor public place are not required to wear a mask while they are:

  • in an area of the indoor public place to which members of the public do not normally have access; or
  • located behind a non-permeable physical barrier.

Individuals may temporarily remove their mask in certain circumstances, for instance when:

  • receiving a service that requires removal of the mask;
  • consuming food or drink;
  • there is an emergency or medical purpose; and
  • establishing their identity.

The public health orders relating to the wearing of face masks do not apply to child-care centres or child-care homes.

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.