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

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home destroyed by fire south of Nanaimo

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong southerly winds on Sunday

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared over at Eden Gardens. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens

One staff member and one resident tested positive for the virus over past two weeks

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

An app available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website can help students during COVID times. (Stock photo)
New library app can help families with online learning

Sample tests, virtual flashcards available through Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

Most Read