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Manitoba releases ‘careful’ plan to reopen economy

Thursday, April 30, 2020 @ 12:49 PM | By Terry Davidson

Manitoba has released a “careful, multi-phased” plan to reopen its economy, starting with things such as hair salons, museums, restaurant “walk-up” services and non-emergency surgeries.

The plan, released April 29, will be rolled out in stages, the first of these starting May 4 and a second on June 1. No dates for “future phases” were given.  

“Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba’s Pandemic Economic Recovery Roadmap consists of multiple phases,” states a news release. “It is critical to note the timing and specifics noted in each phase are subject to change, based on the advice of public health experts and a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors.”

According to the plan, phase one will see the reopening of certain medical procedures, such as non-emergency surgeries and diagnostics and therapeutic health-care services.

It will also see the restarting of various retail businesses, including clothing and shoe stores, jewelers, tailors, electronics stores and book shops. Hair salons, barber shops, outdoor recreation spots, campgrounds, museums, galleries and libraries are some others that will be allowed to open.

However, it notes that all businesses “will be required to limit occupancy to 50 per cent of normal business levels.”

As for restaurants, they will be able to provide “patio/walk-up services.”

At this stage, “[c]ritical public health measures and current travel restrictions will remain,” including “mandatory self-isolation upon one’s return to Manitoba and limits on travel to the north.”

“If results during or at the end of phase one or any future phases are not favourable, the province will not proceed with further easing of secondary public health measures and may reintroduce others. If disease activity remains low, we will give serious consideration in mid-May to reducing the restrictions on group size.”

Phase two will see the expanding of public gatherings such as “social gatherings, worship, weddings and funerals,” as long as “physical distancing can be maintained.”

Restrictions on restaurants will also further loosen, with them being able reopen indoor spaces “at 50 per cent capacity.”

Restrictions on film production and non-contact children’s sports will also be relaxed, as long as certain amounts of physical distancing are maintained.

Future phases could see the reopening of bars, pools, spas, movie theatres and indoor recreational facilities. “Specific considerations” will be given to performing arts venues, tattoo parlours, estheticians, cosmetologists and tanning salons.

However, big gatherings such as concerts, summer festivals and major sporting events “will not be considered before September 2020,” according to the news release.

Complete details can be found in the plan.

As of April, 29, there were 273 total cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, which has had six virus-related deaths.

The province’s plan comes days after Ontario released its own three-step framework to reopen its economy. Unlike Manitoba, Ontario’s plan did not provide timelines on when certain types of businesses will be allowed to reopen.