Manitoba's top doctor says with COVID-19 case counts climbing in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, tighter restrictions are necessary.

On September 28th, the province of Manitoba elevated the Pandemic Response System to Orange for that region, which includes the town of Niverville and rural municipalities of Ritchot and Tache. Under Orange, masks are mandatory in all indoor public places, while gatherings are restricted to ten people, both indoors and outdoors. These restrictions are in place for a minimum of four weeks.

On October 7th, additional restrictions went into effect for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region. This Public Health Order is for licensed premises. Some of the restrictions include no sale of liquor between 10 pm and 9 am, the closure of these premises for dine-in service between 11 pm and 6 am, seating capacity at a table to not exceed ten people and no dancing.

But, even with these restrictions, COVID-19 case counts continue to rise. In fact, the highest single day total was announced Thursday with 173 new cases in the Manitoba. Of those, 133 are in the Winnipeg Health Region alone.

"We are going to need to look at more strict measures," says Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer for Manitoba. "We can see we've lost our way with the fundamentals at this point. So we're going to need to act to be able to bring down these numbers before continued escalation."

Dr. Roussin says tighter restrictions could be introduced as early as Friday, but more than likely they will take effect early next week. He has not identified exactly what they will look like.

"I would say expect widespread capacity limitations across multiple sectors," says Dr. Roussin.

According to the doctor, the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region will not be elevated to Red under the Pandemic Response System, at least, not yet. Though, he says it is possible that personal care homes will be moved to Red.

Dr. Roussin has hinted that restrictions will likely involve sporting activities. He notes they need to find a way to continue sports, but with further restrictions on crowds or even more physical distancing on benches.

There are currently no travel restrictions to Manitoba or other parts of Ontario, but area residents should be aware of the risks of COVID-19 when they travel.

Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, says you should weigh the benefits verses the risks of travelling outside the region.

“We don’t have any specific travel advisories to any specific place,” said Young Hoon during a Facebook live video, “before you decide to travel, you know what the risk is to where you’re going.”

Young Hoon says when travelling it is important to continue to practice good public health measures that include:

  • Physical distancing;
  • wearing masking in enclosed indoor spaces;
  • good hand hygiene;
  • avoiding touching your face and staying home when you are sick

When returning to your home community you should self-monitor for 14-days, and get tested if you develop symptoms.