The province of Manitoba has announced its latest set of proposed changes to the Public Health Order. And once again, minor hockey competition – or even the consideration of indoor recreational sporting games as a whole – remains off the docket.
On Thursday afternoon, the province’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced that Manitobans would be able to provide feedback on a brand new set of proposed changes, set to be put into place over a timeframe of six weeks beginning on March 5, 2021.
Of the proposed changes, increases in numbers at places of worship, gyms, dance studios, restaurants, arcades, VLTs, go-kart tracks and children facilities have been put forward, to which roughly 25 percent occupancy will be the magically proposed number.
Outdoor amusement parks will be able to function at 50 percent capacity, ensuring that appropriate social distancing measures are in effect.
While the most interesting unveiling – no pun intended – is that users of gyms, fitness centres and pools will not longer be required to wear a mask while participating in physical activity. However, mask are to be put back on once physical exertion has been completed.
Neighbours, friends and family will now be able to congregate outdoors in groups as large as 10 people – as long as they are not participating in any form of an organized sport, which appears to be of utmost concern.
Households will now have the option of continuing with the same two designated visitors, or allow a second household to visit one another – as long as all within the household are okay with this decision.
Many of these proposed changes will go into effect on Friday, March 5, while the remainder are expected to be added three weeks later on Friday, March 26. Feedback from the public is encouraged in order to help with this decision-making. The new public health order will span the entire province, including that of northern Manitoba.
Currently, all hockey arenas within the province have remained closed to team practices, games or any form of competition. Since shutting down at the end of October, minor, junior and senior hockey players within Manitoba have watched as other provinces begin their return-to-play structure, with many players flocking out of province/country to remain active.
Now nearly four months away from the rinks, players and parents involved in the game will certainly not be pleased to hear that a return to hockey is not in the cards, while go-karting tracks, and amusement parks will be open for the public. Making matters worse is the fact that maskless individuals will be able to access gyms, pools and training facilities, while hockey players – who skate five-per-side on a 200′ by 85′ sheet of ice – are unable to lace up against one another this season.
Hockey Manitoba released an updated Version V of its Return to Play framework on February 11. Within the document, rules pertaining to hosting outdoor practices as well as that of indoor one-on-one training were included. Currently, only outdoor practices are allowed under strict guidelines, including that of no competition with a focus solely on skill drills. Individual indoor ice sessions can be booked for one-on-one training with a certified hockey coach within Manitoba.
The new public health order will allow teams from a variety of sports to begin practicing indoors – to a maximum of 25 percent occupancy – while following social distancing guidelines. Although practicing is nice, competition is better.
On Thursday, the province announced 70 new cases of COVID-19 with one new death being reported, bringing the total number of active cases to 1,206 and the total number of deaths to 888. This came one day after Manitoba reported just 45 new cases and one death. Manitoba’s test positivity rate is 4.3 percent, while its daily average of new cases is 76 and its daily average of deaths is 1.29.