Reinstated Travel Restrictions to Northern Manitoba and Remote Communities Effective September 4

This blog was originally published on September 9, 2020 and has been revised to include recent updates.

In response to the increased number of COVID-19 cases in southern Manitoba, the Manitoba government announced on August 31, 2020 that it would be re-implementing travel restrictions to northern Manitoba and remote communities, effective September 4, 2020.

UPDATE: Effective 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 12, all health regions in Manitoba will be moving to the critical (red) level with additional and more restrictive public health measures. Subject to new public health orders to be ultimately issued, the province will be implementing further restrictions on travel to and from northern Manitoba and discouraging non-essential travel. We will provide a further update once the new public health orders are released.

The re-implemented travel restrictions were reflected in the public health orders issued on September 3 and September 8, which were replaced by the new public health orders issued on October 13, 2020 (the “Updated Northern Travel Order”). A summary of the travel restrictions contained in the Updated Northern Travel Order is set forth below.

The Updated Northern Travel Order will remain in effect until terminated. Further information on travel and self-isolation restrictions in Manitoba in light of COVID-19 can be found in our “Manitoba Issues Updated Public Health Orders Imposing Self-Isolation for Persons Entering Manitoba and Removing Restrictions on Travel to Northern Manitoba and Remote Communities” blog.

The Updated Northern Travel Order prohibits all travel to northern Manitoba (north of the 53rd parallel of latitude) and remote communities, which are communities that are not connected to the provincial highway system by a year-round all-weather road.

The Northern Travel Order applies to the following area in Manitoba:

Image source: Hunt Fish Manitoba, Fishing Regions / North of 53

The Updated Northern Travel Order does not apply to the following individuals:

  • a person who resides in northern Manitoba or a remote community if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;
  • a person who resides in or is travelling to a northern Manitoba or a remote community to establish their permanent residence;
  • a person travelling to northern Manitoba or a remote community while providing services to or on the behalf of the federal or provincial government, crown corporation, or other government agency;
  • health care providers travelling to northern Manitoba or a remote community to provide health care services;
  • professors, teachers or other educational professionals travelling into northern Manitoba or a  remote community to work at a post-secondary educational institution or school;
  • a person travelling into northern Manitoba or remote communities to attend classes at a post-secondary education or school;
  • a person who owns, operates or is employed by an essential business as outlined by the order to deliver goods and services normally provided by that business, or to engage in activities that the business normally conducts in northern Manitoba or a remote community;
  • a person travelling to northern Manitoba or a remote community to facilitate child custody arrangements or in the course of their duties with a child and family services authority;
  • a person travelling to northern Manitoba or a remote community for emergency medical purposes;
  • a person travelling into northern Manitoba or a remote community for the purpose of participating in a trial or other judicial proceeding; or
  • a person employed by or affiliated with sports teams travelling into northern Manitoba or a remote community for a purpose related to athletic competition or training.

The Updated Northern Travel Order also does not prohibit travel within northern Manitoba by residents of northern Manitoba or by the individuals listed above.

The Updated Northern Travel Order provides that a Manitoba resident does not contravene the order if they travel to Churchill and the surrounding areas so long as they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19, travel as directly as possible to and from Churchill, and limit their use of local services to the minimum required while travelling. The Updated Northern Travel Order also does not restrict Manitoba residents from travelling to a cottage, cabin, provincial park, campground or hunting or fishing lodge in northern Manitoba or a remote community if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19, travel directly as possible to their intended destination, and limit their use of local services to the minimum required given the circumstances.

Finally, the Updated Northern Travel Order does not restrict non-Manitoba residents who reside in areas that are close to northern Manitoba and who regularly travel into northern Manitoba to shop, access health services, or for other essential purposes if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19, restrict their travel to the minimum required for the purpose of their visit, and limit their use of local services to the minimum required given the circumstances of their visit. Note that a person who is required to self-isolate under the Self-Isolation Order for Persons Entering Manitoba (the “Self-Isolation Order”) must not travel to northern Manitoba or a remote community unless they have first completed the required period of self-isolation in southern Manitoba.

In addition, a person who is travelling into northern Manitoba or a remote community by aircraft, train, or bus must wear a mask that covers their mouth, nose and chin without gaping while on that conveyance. This requirement however does not apply to children under five years of age, persons with medical conditions that prevent them from safely wearing a mask, and persons who are unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person. Masks may be temporarily removed in an emergency, for a medical purpose, to consume food or drink, or to establish one’s identity.

Update: As of October 13, 2020, the province has indicated that persons who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 may travel to northern Manitoba or a remote community in the following additional circumstances: (1) to visit a family member or friend who is in a health care facility with a life-threatening illness or injury if the health care facility has authorized the visit, (2) to provide care to a family member or friend who is seriously ill but is not in a health care facility, or (3) to attend the funeral of a family or friend. If such persons are required to self-isolate under the Self-Isolation Order, they are permitted to complete the required period of self-isolation in northern Manitoba or a remote community.

MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor for further changes to the Updated Northern Travel Order. Employers considering the impact of this order on their operations should contact a member of our labour and employment team.