Manitoba chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin walks into the daily news briefing at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. The Manitoba government is ordering many businesses in the Winnipeg region to close after a record increase in COVID-19 cases.THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

Manitoba chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin walks into the daily news briefing at the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. The Manitoba government is ordering many businesses in the Winnipeg region to close after a record increase in COVID-19 cases.THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

‘Have to get things under control:’ Manitoba brings back tougher COVID restrictions

Bars and restaurants in the Winnipeg region will only be allowed to offer takeout and deliver

The Manitoba government is ordering many businesses to close, limiting hospital visits and capping attendance at religious services after a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases.

The province reported 480 new infections Friday. That is more than double the previous daily record, although health officials said many of the cases were delayed data collection from earlier in the week.

Also of concern were intensive care units running at or near capacity and a rising percentage of people testing positive — more than eight per cent in recent days, almost quadruple the national average.

“We have to get things back under control here,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer.

“And we’ll see that once we get the amount of interactions, the amount of gatherings, down, we’re going to start seeing those (case) numbers come down again.”

Starting Monday, bars and restaurants in the Winnipeg region will only be allowed to offer takeout and delivery. Most retail stores will be limited to 25 per cent capacity. Movie theatres must close and sports and recreation programming will be suspended.

In the rest of the province restaurants, bars and stores will be limited to half capacity.

Religious services will be capped at 15 per cent in the Winnipeg region and 20 per cent elsewhere. Public gatherings across the province will be capped at five people — a restriction that was recently implemented in the Winnipeg region only.

In hospitals, non-urgent and elective surgeries are being cancelled in the Winnipeg region. Hospital visits across Manitoba are also off except for people visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.

The province is also looking to add beds and may shift patients to facilities other than hospitals.

“Plans are in place to create new beds for our least-sick non-COVID patients outside of the hospital, should we need more hospital space,” said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer with Manitoba Shared Health.

The restrictions are to be in place for at least two weeks and will be reassessed at that time, Roussin said.

The changes follow an open letter to the government signed by 18 Manitoba doctors. The letter warned that the health-care system could be overrun unless there was a provincewide shutdown.

“We can implement it now and, if we are fortunate, limit deaths to less than double what we have now,” states the letter published in the Winnipeg Free Press.

“Or we can shut down in three weeks and have a death count in the multiple hundreds.”

The new rules will further hurt retailers who have faced various restrictions since the pandemic began last winter, The Retail Council of Canada said Friday.

“About 15 per cent of retail in Manitoba is struggling, has no financial reserves (and) was hanging on for this time of year when purchases go up,” said John Graham, the council’s director of government relations for the Prairies.

Graham and Dave McKeigan, who manages the Pyramid Cabaret concert venue in downtown Winnipeg, said the Manitoba government has to offer more help for businesses that have had to shut down or operate under strict limits for months.

“We’re treading water and we’re slowly sinking,” said McKeigan, citing property taxes and other ongoing costs.

Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen did not hold a news conference Friday. Pallister’s office issued a brief written statement that urged people to follow Dr. Roussin’s guidelines, but was non-committal on business aid.

“We will continue to work with our small businesses to address their needs so that they can be part of our economic recovery. But right now, the most important thing we can do to help our small businesses is to reduce our COVID-19 cases,” the statement read.

At one point in the summer, Manitoba had only one active COVID-19 case. Numbers started spiking in late summer.

Growing numbers in western Manitoba were reversed with restrictions on businesses and limits on public gatherings. A later spike in Winnipeg has not been dampened with some restrictions that were imposed a month ago.

The Manitoba Nurses Union said the government knew that a second wave would arrive but failed to boost hospital capacity and other health services.

“The Pallister government had months to prepare. They sat on their hands, refused to invest in our public health system, and now we are at a tipping point,” union president Darlene Jackson said in a statement.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Rimbey, Ponoka

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

A sign instructs people to wear masks in downtown Calgary on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Pub and restaurant owners are trying to figure out how to comply with a stricter COVID-19 measure in Alberta that dictates only six people from the same household can sit at one table. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brewpub owner pleased Alberta not closing sit-down dining as COVID-19 cases soar

Alberta’s caseload of COVID-19 infections has been growing for weeks

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Most Read