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

Nikita, a four-year-old German Shepherd that was attacked by a buck in a backyard in Esquimalt Sunday is lucky the injury wasn't more severe. (Photo contributed by Suzette Goldsworthy)
Esquimalt dog owner issues alert after deer injures German shepherd

Nikita needed stitches after an early morning encounter

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog attacks mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest man covered in blood on heels of significant Saanich crash into woods

Resident calls in home invasion in progress after crash

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read