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.

Just Posted

The Seattle Cossacks are a popular portion of the Hope Brigade Days parade. Some form of a community parade may still take place, say organizers. (Standard file photo)
Hope’s Brigade Days once again hit by pandemic concerns

Main event cancelled, but there is a glimmer of hope some events could happen

(Submitted)
Looking back on a rural nursing career in Hope

After a career spent working at Fraser Canyon Hospital, Jo-Dee Chisholm retires

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
UPDATE: Fire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

Justin Bond’s Bahrain 1 took a team around a year to construct. It gets its name because the Sheik of Bahrain is a major sponsor of the team. / Photo courtesy of Justin Bond.
Mission dragracer wins Atlanta race, ousts back-to-back world champion

Justin Bond goes quarter-mile in 5.738-seconds, beating champ Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson on home turf

Jamie and Erin O’Neill, who are renting a 107-year-old house at 45837 Knight Rd., are wanting to save it from the wrecking ball and move it when it comes time for the owners of the house to build a new house on the property. They are pictured here outside the home on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack couple wants to save 107-year-old home from demolition, asking for community support

O’Neills have less than year to find new property, raise funds to move Knight Road house

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Most Read