Starting Monday, November 2nd province-wide changes will take effect to the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System. The move, announced Friday by chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin, is an effort to halt the growing community transmission of COVID-19 in Manitoba.

“We have pleaded with Manitobans to follow the fundamentals and to significantly reduce their contacts, and the numbers continue in the wrong direction,” said Roussin. “It is our hope that these new restrictions will help to halt the spread of this virus in order to ensure our health-care system is there for those who need it. I hope that this is a clear signal to Manitobans, and in particular the Winnipeg Metro Region, that we need to stay home, keep our distance and make a necessary collective sacrifice to protect all Manitobans.”

Beginning at 12:01 a.m., Monday, Southern Health–Santé Sud, Prairie Mountain Health and Interlake–Eastern health regions will move to the Restricted level (orange) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System, joining the Northern health region at orange.

Changes for these regions include:
- Public and private group gathering sizes limited to five, in addition to household.
- Mask use is mandatory in indoor public places
- Capacity limited to 50 per cent at restaurants and bars, with group sizes limited to five.
- Reduced retail capacity to 50 per cent, encouraging limiting those who go shopping from each household.
- Blended learning for grades 9 to 12, voluntary blended learning temporarily available for kindergarten to Grade 8, encouraging as much physical distancing as possible.
- Personal services have no change and stay at 50 per cent capacity.
- Reduced spectators at sports and recreation facilities to 25 per cent.
- Gyms and fitness centers require contact information for all attendees and mask use at all times, except when exercising.
- Faith-based gatherings are reduced to 20 per cent or 250 people, whichever is lower.

“The incubation period for this virus is up to 14 days – if we limit our contacts and stay home, we could see drastic reductions in transmission within weeks,” said Dr. Roussin. “We have done this before and I am confident we can do it again. But we need to be serious about this if we want to bend the curve.”

Additionally, Dr. Roussin announced that the Winnipeg Metro Region will be eleveated to Critical level (red) on the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System effective Monday.

This includes the following changes:
- Bars and restaurants will be closed except for take-out and delivery.
- Most retail will be reduced to 25 per cent capacity.
- Sports and recreation programming will be suspended.
- Gyms and fitness centres will have reduced capacity to 25 per cent and masks will be mandatory, even when exercising.
- Movie theatres and concert halls will close.
- Personal services have no change and stay at 50 per cent capacity.
- Non-urgent and elective surgeries and diagnostics will be suspended. Scheduled surgeries in a number of essential and time-sensitive areas will continue to be performed including cancer, cardiac and trauma. Patients will be contacted directly if their scheduled surgeries are affected.
- Visitation at all hospitals in the Winnipeg Metro Region has been suspended, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis for patients receiving end-of-life care, in labour and delivery, as well as in pediatrics.
- Faith-based gatherings are reduced to 15 per cent or 100 people, whichever is lower.

In addition to these changes, the province is encouraging businesses in the Winnipeg Metro Region, including the public service, to have staff work from home wherever possible, and for residents to stay home when sick and take whatever action possible to reduce their contacts and otherwise gathering in public.

“While our system continues to have capacity to care for the health needs of Manitobans, these case numbers can be expected to result in a surge in demand on our health system over the coming weeks,” said Lanette Siragusa, provincial lead, health system integration, quality, and chief nursing officer, Shared Health. “The time to increase capacity is now. We are taking every necessary step to safely ramp down elective and non-urgent services so that we can redeploy staff and other resources to areas of increased demand. We are adding beds to existing areas, preparing to convert existing beds from their current use and identifying staff who can be oriented to new areas.”

“We have a plan. We have equipment and space and supplies. And we are working through the details of the staffing and models of care to support the safe delivery of health services now and for the weeks to come,” Siragusa added.