On Friday afternoon, a highly-anticipated, highly-publicized news conference between Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer and Cameron Friesen, Manitoba’s Health Minister occurred, to which the pair spoke of new regulations surrounding the current COVID-19 global pandemic and changes coming into effect for Monday, October 19.
With gathering sizes within the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region now down to a COVID-low five person maximum (excluding members of the host household) other shutdowns including nightclubs, bars, beverage rooms, casinos, lottery lounges and bingo halls highlighted the news briefing. Max occupancy percentages in various locations throughout the community have also seen allowances drop.
With Manitoba’s test positivity rate at an all-time high of 5.2%, changes had to be made. The past week has seen 11 total COVID-19 related deaths, while 18 people have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of October. This past Thursday also saw a record 173 new cases within the province, which prompted these decisions. On Friday, Winnipeg was hit with 63 new cases, while Manitoba as a whole saw 75.
Despite no changes to the structure of education and virtual learning/in-school programs, youth/young adults will mainly see differences in their recreational activities, as compared to their classroom settings.
Gyms and fitness-related facilities will now be noting down contact information for all who enter those buildings, as a way of reverse contact tracing. Recreation facilities will only be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, in terms of spectator/fan attendance. These rules also apply to after-school, extra-curricular activities.
“Only one parent should go with the child to the rink if possible,” Roussin said Friday. “There are many benefits in physical activity. We want to see people active but we can do things to reduce the risk involved in those activities.”
One of those ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to eliminate gatherings post-game/post-practice – something Roussin indicates has led to some community transmission, most notably with the older hockey-playing demographic.
“Having drinks afterward with the entire team, or even both teams, in change rooms or in lots, we’re seeing transmission events,” Roussin said.
With competitive hockey games having been allowed to officially begin on October 1, in accordance with Hockey Manitoba’s Return to Play guidelines, players, referees, coaches and spectators alike are asked to follow the protocol set in place to a T, or else risk losing the season, should outbreaks continue within the sporting community. These new regulations will be in place for 14 days with a re-evaluation period to follow, should the changes need to be extended.