Manitoba changing rules on gathering sizes and business capacity as third wave of pandemic arrives

WINNIPEG — Manitoba is bringing in new public health orders in an attempt to slow down the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes to gathering rules and business capacity.

Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, announced the new restrictions Monday afternoon.

“We really just have to look to the provinces on either side of us to know why we need to make these adjustments at this point,” Roussin said. “We’ve been here in this place before.”

Pallister said that COVID-19 is once again on the rise, due in large part to the new variants of concern.

“Our cases are rising, our test-positivity rate is rising, hospitalization numbers are beginning to go back up,” he said.

“We’ve been in this situation last year, and we know that we don’t want it recreated now.”

The new restrictions, which take effect Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., limit households to two designated visitors for indoor gatherings. Outdoor gatherings on private and public property are capped at 10 people, including household members.

Other gathering rule changes include changes to faith-based gatherings. Capacity has been reduced to 25 per cent or 50 people, whichever is smaller.

“The mask rules that we previously had in the faith-based gatherings will remain unchanged,” Roussin said.

Masks are required at faith-based gatherings except when household groups are seated at a service, are appropriately distanced from other groups, and are not singing.

Gathering sizes at weddings and funerals have also been reduced to a maximum of 10 people, in addition to a photographer and an officiant.

On Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., new retail capacity restrictions will take effect. Roussin said the orders are taking effect a day after the household gathering orders to allow businesses to prepare.

Retail stores will be limited to one-third of the store’s capacity or up to 333 patrons, whichever is lower. Malls will be limited to 33 per cent of the facility’s capacity.

The orders will remain in effect until May 12.

There were no changes to indoor dining at restaurants or personal service businesses in the new orders.

Roussin said the orders are in place due to the rising number of variant cases in the province and other jurisdictions.

“I think this is a very measured approach to where we are, noting that we already had fairly stringent public health orders in place,” he said. “But, I think we’re at an important place right now, where we need to avert this third wave, and I really think that these orders right here are our last chance to flatten our curve in a third wave before we have to revert back to more stringent public health restrictions.”

The full list of changes can be viewed below.

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