New COVID-19 measures, economic support
With daily case-counts of COVID-19 continuing in the hundreds across the province, the Manitoba government is implementing new restrictions that will go into place on Thursday.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says that the entire province of Manitoba will enter the Red or Critical level of the Pandemic Response System.
This means a lockdown very similar to what was seen in the spring during the first wave of COVID-19.
Going beyond that level of restrictions are new rules about social gatherings. As of 12:01 AM on November 12, social visits will not be permitted with anyone outside of a person’s household.
In the spring, the government only “strongly discouraged” gatherings compared to the new measures in which they are expressively “not permitted”.
Similar to restrictions put in place in the spring are a limitation of travel to the northern part of the province which should be restricted to essential trips only.
Retails stores that provide critical services (pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.) will remain open, but with 25% capacity. Other stores must close but can continue to provide curb-side pickup service and delivery options.
All buildings that offer religious services will be closed.
All personal service businesses (hair salons, beauticians, etc.) will be closed.
All recreational activities, sports facilities, gyms, fitness centres, casinos, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres and concert halls will be closed.
Restaurants are closed except for takeout and delivery.
Some businesses, such as those who self-regulate like registered massage therapists, can continue to stay open so long as they follow the guidelines set forth by their professional organization.
Unlike the shutdown in the spring, schools from kindergarten through grade 12 will remain open.
Dr. Roussin says these measures will be in place for a minimum of four weeks.
There are also four new points of economic support offered for businesses by Premier Brian Pallister during the this morning’s briefing.
- Impacted businesses suffering as a consequence of COVID and the measures being taken to control the virus will be able to access $5000 before Christmas and another $5000 next year though the Manitoba Bridge Grant Program. This will be open to businesses who also accessed the gap program from earlier in the year.
- Further to the earlier gap program, it is being altered to allow the businesses to keep the money received earlier in the year. When the program launched in the spring, it was intended that these funds would be repaid to the provincial government.
- A change to the provincial wage subsidy program to streamline the dispersion of funds. Prior to this change, the government would provide up to 50% of an employee’s wages once proof was obtained that the wages were paid. Starting as soon as next week, the money will be advanced ahead of the payment of wages with the expectation that a company will provide the proof at a later date.
- Launch discussions with groups to provide advice about what is needed going forward. The government has set a baseline of $50-million to help businesses and that advice will be sought in the new year.