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Province announces draft plan for second phase of COVID-19 recovery measures

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Last Thursday (May 21) the Manitoba Government announced their preliminary draft plan for Phase 2 of the pandemic and economic recovery program. Although a date to start this phase was not announced at the time, in a later press conference Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said that June 1 is still the target date but they would like to give a few more days past the Phase 1 incubation date before that is decided.
The draft plan for restoring services in Phase Two builds on measures Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba’s Pandemic and Economic Roadmap for Recovery, which set out an evidence-based plan to ease public health measures that had escalated since mid-January.
Other considerations being examined for the second phase of service restoration include:
• increasing child-care centre occupancy to up to 24 children plus staffing;
• increasing day camp group sizes to 24;
• resuming sports activities for children and adults;
• lifting occupancy limits at outdoor recreation facilities and golf courses outdoors, as long as physical distancing can be maintained and allowing limited access to indoor spaces;
• allowing direct travel to northern parks, campgrounds, cabins, lodges and resorts while ensuring physical distancing;
• allowing public/private swimming pools, spas, fitness clubs, gyms and community/service centres to reopen with some limitations;
• allowing religious or other organizations to hold outdoor services without limitation on numbers if people stay in their vehicles;
• reopening manicurists and pedicurists, tattoo parlours, estheticians, cosmetologists, electrologists and tanning parlours at 50 per cent capacity;
• allowing restaurants to reopen indoor spaces at 50 per cent capacity and continue to offer patio services at that capacity level;
• allowing bars, beverage rooms, micro-brewers and similar businesses that serve food and drinks to operate patio service at 50 per cent of site capacity and to reopen indoor spaces at 50 per cent capacity; and
• allowing the resumption of film productions while ensuring physical distancing.
Another change, which took effect May 22, was increasing gathering sizes to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, and allowing residents of personal care homes and long-term care facilities to have visits outdoors.
No changes were made to the requirements for reopening hair stylists/barbers, museums, galleries and libraries and parks, campgrounds yurts and vacation cabins.
“We look at a number of key factors when making these recommendations including how the spread of the virus has been controlled, the stability of the health system’s capacity, public health capacity and the number of outbreaks in vulnerable settings,” said Roussin. “We will only take additional steps to safely restore services based on this data, as well as on case numbers, testing data and other public health information. Any further changes will be considered based on this data in the coming days and weeks.”
Detailed information on the draft plan for Phase Two of service restoration can be found at www.manitoba.ca/covid19/restoring/index.html.
Manitobans can provide their feedback on the draft plan by visiting https://engagemb.ca/.
Schools
In careful consultation with Public Health experts, as part of Phase Two, the province is currently examining limited access to educational facilities, where physical distancing can be maintained, to allow for additional tutorial days, such as one-on-one learning, assessment and specific programming.
To ensure students are equipped to transition to the new school year, additional teaching days are being examined for the upcoming school year, including beginning classes on Aug. 31, and repurposing some of the non-instructional days throughout the school year, the premier noted.
“Our young Manitobans are our most precious asset, and we need to do everything we can to support students and help prepare them for a bright future,” said Premier Brian Pallister. “We know this has been a challenging time for students and their families as they juggle remote learning while missing their classmates and friends. We want to examine additional ways to assist them in meeting their educational needs.”
The Department of Education will continue planning and consulting with school divisions and other education stakeholders.
Future Phases
In the latest report the government noted that Phase 3 will be looked at no sooner than June 21 and additional reopening steps and new phases will be considered in three-to-four week intervals after that. This is to ensure adequate time between phases is provided to monitor cases and ensure easing and further restrictions are able to respond to the evidence of viral transmission.
As the situation evolves, Manitoba public health officials will make decisions based on evidence at the time.
Based on data, the following changes may be made in subsequent phases:
• Relax occupancy limits of 50 per cent of normal business levels or one person per 10 square metres, for retail services, therapeutic or health care businesses and hair stylists/barbers.
• Fully re-open bars, beverage rooms, micro-brewers and similar businesses.
• Re-open movie theaters, casinos, bingo halls and indoor recreational facilities, with capacity limitations.
• Amusement parks and similar outdoor recreation businesses.
• Other similar businesses with capacity limitations.
Other considerations
Mass gatherings such as concerts, festivals and major sporting events will not be considered before September 2020, As the situation evolves, Manitoba public health officials will make decisions based on evidence at the time.
No overnight camps will be permitted in the foreseeable future, as it may be difficult to maintain public health requirements for ongoing physical distancing.