Authors: Milt Christiansen, Dany Théberge, Christine Jeroski. This blog was originally published on July 24, 2020.
Manitoba entered phase four of its multi-phased reopening plan on July 25 after consultation with public health officials, members of the public and industry.
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.
We encourage employers, businesses and organizations to review the Manitoba Prevention Orders to ensure compliance with the sector-specific restrictions impacting their workplace, and to review the new measures introduced on November 12.
The province continues to caution that if the public health indicators and results or guidelines demand it, certain measures may be further eased, restricted or re-introduced.
The following sections outline the changes that have been implemented since July 25.
July 25 Measures
The following measures were introduced during phase four effective July 25 and continue to apply to all areas of Manitoba except the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, Little Grand Rapids and northern Manitoba:
Public gathering sizes can total up to 50 people for indoor gatherings and 100 people for outdoor gatherings, subject to individuals maintaining separation of at least two metres except for brief exchanges. These gathering sizes apply to social gatherings, weddings, funerals and other organized gatherings or events. Organizers and attendees must follow the public health guidelines for the venue in which a gathering is being held.
Larger groups are permitted for social gatherings, weddings, funerals, and other organized gatherings or events, where distinct groups of 50 or 100 persons can be separated from other sub-groups. Sub-groups must be divided into groups of 50 or fewer people for indoor gatherings, and 100 or fewer people for outdoor gatherings. In both cases, the maximum group size cannot exceed 30 per cent of the site’s normal capacity. While some outdoor venues may have defined capacity, others may require the use of a “reasonableness” standard or 30 per cent of prior capacity at an event. Sub-groups must maintain adequate physical distancing from other sub-groups at all times and must be able to arrive, depart and participate in gatherings without co-mingling with other sub-groups.
Cohorts are not required for faith-based services, powwows, stage performances and movie theatres.
Stage Performances & Movie Theatres
Stage performances may resume and movie theatres may reopen, at 30% site capacity or 500 people, whichever is lower. There is no sub-group or cohort requirement.
The site must address and implement physical distancing measures in common spaces where patrons may congregate.
Casinos may reopen at 30 per cent of the site’s capacity (including staff) so long as adequate physical distancing can be maintained between patrons.
Faith-Based Gatherings, Powwows and Other Cultural and Spiritual Indoor Gatherings
Gathering sizes for faith-based services and powwows may increase to 30 per cent site capacity or 500 people, whichever is lower, so long as adequate physical distancing can be maintained between members of the public. There is no sub-group or cohort requirement.
Personal services businesses (e.g., therapeutic services, hair, and nail salons) that install non-permeable physical barriers between all chairs and other workstations may operate where patrons and employees on site are less than two metres apart.
The province also eased certain restrictions on both indoor and outdoor visits of personal care and long-term care settings.
The province did not lift the 14-day self-isolation requirement for persons travelling into Manitoba from regions in Ontario east of Terrace Bay, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
For more information relating to the current state of travel restrictions in the province, see our blog here.
More details on the province’s original phase four plan can be accessed here.
September 28 Measures
On September 28, the province issued the original General Orders and Capital Region Orders in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the City of Winnipeg and the surrounding areas.
The General Orders apply to all areas of Manitoba except for the areas that are located in the Capital Region, which include:
- the City of Winnipeg;
- the City of Selkirk;
- the Town of Niverville;
- the Town of Stonewall;
- the Town of Teulon;
- the Village of Dunnottar;
- the Rural Municipality of Cartier;
- the Rural Municipality of East St. Paul;
- the Rural Municipality of Headingley;
- the Rural Municipality of Macdonald;
- the Rural Municipality of Ritchot;
- the Rural Municipality of Rockwood;
- the Rural Municipality of Springfield;
- the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews;
- the Rural Municipality of St. Clements;
- the Rural Municipality of St. François Xavier;
- the Rural Municipality of Taché;
- the Rural Municipality of West St. Paul;
- and includes the reserves of First Nations that are located within this area.
The Capital Region Orders apply only to the Capital Region. These orders are similar to the General Orders with the exception of group gathering sizes and the use of face masks, as discussed below.
As of September 28, all private and public gatherings in areas within the Capital Region were limited to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors. If a gathering is at a private residence, then all persons who reside at that residence are not included in calculating the number of persons.
This restriction applies to weddings and funerals, but it does not apply to health care or social services facilities.
To note, more than 10 people can attend a business or facility that is allowed to open under the public health orders if the applicable distancing measures are in place.
Use of Face Masks
Face masks must be worn in all public spaces within the Capital Region and individuals must ensure that their mask covers their mouth, nose and chin without gapping.
To note, the following individuals are exempt from wearing a mask in 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; and
- any person unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person.
Further, individuals may temporarily remove their mask in certain circumstances, for instance when:
- receiving a service that requires removal of the mask;
- actively engaging in athletic or fitness activity (including water based activities);
- consuming food or drink;
- there is an emergency or medical purpose; and
- establishing their identity.
October 8 Measures
On October 7, the Province issued new General Orders terminating and replacing the September 28 General Orders, which were then subsequently replaced by the General Orders issued on October 8. The Province also issued new public health orders specific to the region of Little Grand Rapids on October 8.
As per the new General Orders, the following restrictions were introduced for the restaurant and food industry in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Area:
- there must be a two-metre separation between persons sitting at different tables, except where there is a non-permeable physical barrier between persons sitting at different tables;
- tables cannot exceed 10 persons, nor can they be physically moved by members of the public;
- sound levels in the licensed premises cannot exceed 80 decibels, and no dancing can take place in the licensed premises;
- no sale or service of liquor may take place in licensed premises between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.;
- the operator of a licensed premises must ensure that all members of the public vacate the premises by 11 p.m.;
- licensed premises must be closed for dine-in services between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.;
- staff must obtain contact information in writing from at least one person in each party attending the licensed premises and the licensee must retain this information for 21 days, after which it must be destroyed;
- staff must provide written answers to a series of COVID-19 screening questions before commencing any shift and these answers must be retained for 21 days; and
- food may be sold from licensed premises after 11 p.m. for takeout and delivery.
Note that these restrictions exclude liquor retail.
On October 8, the province issued the Little Grand Rapids Prevention Order, which can be located here. The following measures, among others, took effect on October 9 and will remain in effect until terminated:
- all residents of Little Grand Rapids must stay in their residence or in an area immediately adjacent to their residence;
- such residents may leave their residence to access health care services, obtain food and other essential items, but only one person in a residence may leave the residence for this purpose; and
- all businesses in Little Grand Rapids must close, except for businesses that sell food, household goods, and other items necessary for safety, sanitization, or operation of residences or businesses and businesses being used to house or provide services to persons who have been directed to self-isolate, so long as such businesses ensure that adequate physical distancing and sanitization practices are being adhered to.
However, the above measures do not apply to the following persons, unless they have been directed by a health care provider to self-isolate at their residence:
- members of Little Grand Rapids First Nation band council and Little Grand Rapids Community Council;
- members of the RCMP and band constables;
- doctors, nurses, and other persons involved in providing health care services;
- persons providing firefighting, ambulance, waste management and other essential services;
- persons who are engaged in the operation or maintenance of critical infrastructure, such as water and sewage facilities, radio and other communication services as well as transportation services; and
- persons who are engaged in activities to support and assist persons in Little Grand Rapids who have contracted COVID-19 or who are required to self-isolate.
In addition, a person who is in an outdoor public place or who enters or remains in an indoor public place in Little Grand Rapids must wear a mask that covers their mouth, nose and chin without gapping, and operators of indoor public places that are permitted to remain open in Little Grand Rapids must ensure that every person is wearing a mask in such facilities.
Finally, no person is permitted to travel to Little Grand Rapids, subject to the following exemptions (so long as such persons are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19):
- a person who resides in Little Grand Rapids;
- a person travelling to Little Grand Rapids in the course of their duties with, or while providing services to or on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Government of Manitoba, or a crown corporation or other government agency;
- a health care provider who is travelling to Little Grand Rapids to provide health care services;
- a person who owns, operates or is employed by a business who is travelling to Little Grand Rapids to deliver necessary goods or provide essential services normally provided by that business;
- a person who is travelling to Little Grand Rapids (i) to facilitate shared parenting arrangements under a custody order or agreement, or (ii) in the course of their duties with a child and family services authority;
- a person who is travelling to Little Grand Rapids for emergency medical purposes; and
- a person who is travelling to Little Grand Rapids for the purpose of participating in a trial or other judicial proceeding.
October 19 Measures
Pursuant to the Updated Capital Region Orders, which replaced and terminated the Capital Region Orders issued on October 7, which replaced the original orders issued on September 28, the following measures took effect on Monday, October 19, and would remain in effect until 11:00 p.m. on November 2:
- lowering indoor and outdoor gathering sizes from 10 to five people, which applies to weddings, funerals, banquets, receptions, dinners and house parties, among other ceremonies, social events and informal gatherings:
- the five-person limit does not apply to:
- household members for private gatherings inside the home;
- a facility where health care or social services are provided;
- 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
- other exceptions as set out in section 1 (2);
- the five-person limit does not apply to:
- closing of premises that are subject to an entertainment facility liquor service licence (though food may be sold for delivery or takeout between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.);
- closing of all casinos;
- suspending licensed bingo gaming events;
- reducing group/table sizes in restaurants and certain licensed premises from 10 to five people and reducing capacity to 50%;
- reducing capacity at retail businesses to 50%;
- lowering gathering sizes from 10 to five people in food courts;
- reducing capacity at sporting events, recreational facilities, gyms, fitness centres, museums, galleries, libraries, spas, and personal service businesses;
- requiring gyms, fitness centres, indoor recreational facilities, concert halls, theatres, museums, art galleries, libraries, and spas that provide personal services, to collect contact information for all attendees and retain such information for 21 days; and
- other measures detailed in the Updated Capital Orders.
October 26 Measures
On October 26, the province issued the Northern Manitoba COVID-19 Prevention Orders (the “Northern Manitoba Orders”), which can be located here. Northern Manitoba refers to the area of Manitoba located north of the 53rd parallel of latitude.
The following measures, among others, took effect on October 26 and would remain in effect until terminated:
- lowering indoor and outdoor gathering sizes to five people, which applies to weddings, funerals, banquets, receptions, dinners and house parties, among other ceremonies, social events and informal gatherings;
- gatherings involving more than five persons may take place if (i) the number of persons attending does not exceed 30% of site capacity; (ii) the place where the gathering is held is physically divided into separate areas which contain no more than five persons each; and (iii) persons in each area are prevented from coming into close proximity with persons in another area during the gathering.
- The five-person limit does not apply to:
- household members for private gatherings inside the home;
- a facility where health care or social services are provided; and
- 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.
- restaurants may open if tables and seating are arranged to ensure at least two-metres of separation between tables or contain non-permeable physical barriers, the number of customers does not exceed 50% site capacity, that food is not served buffet style, among other measures;
- closing of premises that are subject to an entertainment facility liquor service licence (though food may be sold for delivery or takeout between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m.);
- reducing group/table sizes in restaurants and certain licensed premises to five people and reducing capacity to 50%;
- reducing capacity at retail businesses to 50%;
- reducing capacity at food courts in shopping centres to 50%;
- reducing capacity at sporting events, recreational facilities, gyms, fitness centres, museums, galleries, libraries, spas and personal service businesses;
- closing of all casinos;
- suspending licensed bingo gaming events; and
- requiring a restaurant or licensed premises, theatre, museum, gallery, library, personal service business, concert hall, or fitness facility to keep contact information for members of the public attending their premises and maintain those records for 21 days to support contact tracing.
In addition, the following measures were implemented in schools in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region and the Northern health regions, both under the Restricted Level (orange), effective October 26:
- schools must ensure two metres of physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, and adjust classroom space as necessary;
- excess furniture must be removed from classrooms to create additional space;
- other spaces within schools must be repurposed to accommodate more distancing (e.g., multipurpose rooms, empty rooms, shared spaces, common areas and libraries);
- extracurricular activities are only permitted if all learning and distancing requirements have been met. If these activities continue, established guidelines must be followed and, in the case of sports, participants should maintain distance when not active;
- teachers and staff who move across cohorts of students, including substitute teachers, are required to wear medical masks (medical-grade disposable masks have been issued to all schools);
- indoor choir and the use of wind instruments are not permitted;
- all field trips must be postponed or cancelled;
- blended learning (in-class and online) for grades 9 to 12 where distancing cannot be achieved will continue; and
- kindergarten to grade 8 students may be offered a temporary remote learning option for the duration of the restricted level.
October 28 Measures
Similarly to the Little Grand Rapids order of October 8, 2020, public health orders were issued for Cross Lake and can be accessed here.
November 2 Measures
Significant public health measures were introduced on November 2, including moving the Winnipeg Metro Region to the critical (red) level. On November 12, all regions of Manitoba moved to the critical (red) level and will remain in the critical (red) level until at least January 8, 2021. Further details of the changes implemented since November 2 can be found in our 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.
Update: 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.
More details respecting the province’s multi-phased reopening plan can be found in our blog, “Manitoba’s Plan for Reopening Businesses”.
MLT Aikins will continue to monitor the situation. Employers considering the impact of the province’s phase four measures and how they apply 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.