Hair salons, dentists, patios can reopen in Manitoba starting Monday

In just five days, Manitobans will be able to get a haircut, drink beers on a patio, visit their dentist and check out a museum — though with numerous restrictions, Premier Brian Pallister revealed Wednesday as part of the province's broad reopening plan.

Premier Brian Pallister announces multi-phased reopening

Some COVID-19 restrictions relax in Northern Manitoba this week. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

In just five days, Manitobans will be able to get a haircut, drink beers on a patio, visit their dentist and check out a museum — though with numerous restrictions, Premier Brian Pallister revealed Wednesday as part of the province's broad reopening plan.

"I want to be clear this is not an announcement about a return to normal, not right away. Because the normal will be a new normal," he said.

"Things have changed. So the new normal for now, and for a long time to come, is what we are facing the challenges of addressing."

COVID-19 is still in the province and continues to affect people — but new cases are arising at a much lower rate than they had been. But there is a need to find a balance between keeping people safe and restoring economic activity and quality of life, Pallister said.

He urged caution against interpreting the reopening measures as a sign everything is better.

"There is no room whatsoever for complacency against COVID-19. It is an adversary that is nefarious, sneaky and dangerous," he said. "There must be no COVID comeback in our province."

WATCH | Premier Brian Pallister announces multi-phased reopening:

Multi-phased reopening in Manitoba

3 years ago
Duration 2:31
In just five days, Manitobans will be able to get a haircut, drink beers on a patio, visit their dentist and check out a museum — though with numerous restrictions.

As of May 4, a variety of non-essential health care and retail businesses will have the option of reopening under strict guidelines. Those services, businesses and venues include:

  • Non-urgent surgery and diagnostic procedures.
  • Therapeutic and medical services.
  • Retail businesses.
  • Restaurants — patio/walk-up services.
  • Hair salons.
  • Museums, galleries and libraries.
  • Seasonal day camps.

"We'll also ease restrictions on outdoor recreation such as playgrounds, golf courses [and] campgrounds," Pallister said.

"We encourage Manitobans to continue practising physical distancing and safely enjoy our beautiful outdoors while we continue to move through the phases of this pandemic together, but at safe distance from one another."

Public gatherings, including those for worship, weddings and funerals, will continue to be restricted to a maximum of 10 people.

"Today's good news, and it's good news because of you," Pallister said, praising Manitobans for adapting to the restrictions that were put in place to halt the spread of COVID-19.

"You stuck to the fundamentals, and those fundamentals are what will take us forward. But this isn't a victory lap. Today is a celebration because of what you've done and tomorrow will be a celebration because of what you'll continue to do."

WATCH | Pallister cautions Manitobans while easing restrictions:

'Your judgment is critical here'

3 years ago
Duration 1:06
Premier Brian Pallister cautions Manitobans on getting together in large gatherings and recommends maintaining physical distancing.

Manitoba's chief public health officer, speaking at his 1 p.m. briefing, reiterated Pallister's remarks about the success of the province's restrictions to this point.

Dr. Brent Roussin said on Wednesday that without physical distancing and travel restrictions, models suggests Manitoba would have had 933 cases by April 25. Instead, the actual number on that day was 267.

Since April 12, there have only been single-digit increases each day in COVID-19 cases, with one more announced Wednesday. The province's total is now 273, since the first three were announced March 12.

Much of the Manitoba economy and many workplaces have been shut down by public health orders for about a month. Schools closed March 23 and non-essential services were shuttered April 1.

"We have borne this pandemic in a way that we might never have anticipated before this year — through stresses, strains and separations that made life challenging, to put it mildly," Pallister said Wednesday.

"We have to ensure that we continue to do some of these measures, and we have to ensure we do them with dedication, because that is how we will protect each other."

If results during or at the end of Phase 1 are not favourable, the province will not proceed with further phases and may instead reintroduce some measures, a news release from the government said.

"If disease activity remains low, we will give serious consideration in mid-May to reducing the restrictions on group sizes," the news release says.

All businesses and venues being allowed to reopen will be required to continue following social distancing and stringent cleaning practices to protect both employees and customers, he said.

WATCH | Pallister asks Manitobans to give 100 per cent commitment:

'Our number one priority during this pandemic has been to keep you and your loved ones safe'

3 years ago
Duration 1:30
Premier Brian Pallister asks for 100 per cent commitment from Manitobans moving forward as the province carefully restore services.

The province will continually re-evaluate and adjust plans for further easing of public health restrictions if one or any future phases result in a resurgence of cases.

Pallister highlighted the effect of restarting services on Manitobans.

"Parents who wanted their children to be able to play in the playground just down the street weren't advised to do that. Now they can. If you wanted to take an outing with your family to go to a museum, you couldn't go. Now you can. If you wanted to just have a break and walk down the street and maybe have an IPA on the patio of a restaurant, you couldn't do it. Now you can," he said.

"These changes are big for people to get back to enjoying the quality of life that Manitoba offers them, for families, for all of us."

Despite his optimism, Pallister expects some businesses will have trouble finding staff because Manitoba is "fighting against a federal program that is actually paying people to stay out of the workforce right now. I don't like the fact that is real, but that is real, people are being paid to stay home."

Future phases

Phase 2 of the reopening, which would happen no earlier than June 1, may include an increase in the size of gatherings and more non-essential businesses, including:

  • Dining inside restaurants.
  • Non-contact children's sports.
  • Film production.
  • Additional personal services, such as nail salons.

Depending on the COVID-19 cases the province experiences with the reopening strategy, rules may be eased further.

Future phases would include allowing larger public gatherings and reopening more businesses, such as bars, pools and spas, movie theatres and indoor recreational facilities. Travel restrictions may also be eased, Pallister said.

Specific considerations also will be made for performing arts venues, tattoo parlours, estheticians, cosmetologists and tanning studios.

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Asked why tattoo parlours, estheticians, cosmetologists and the like aren't being opened in Phase 1, as hair salons are, Pallister said "it's because every business is different."

"I suppose the dangers to people of certain businesses are greater than of others. It's a difficult call but we've made that difficult call because it's the right thing to do," he said.

As well, mass gatherings such as concerts, summer festivals and major sporting events will not be considered before September 2020, Pallister said.

"That will not be realistic for some time."

He also ruled out following in the footsteps of Quebec and reopening school this school year.

"Our kids are precious to us. We're in the early days of this recovery and a large number of students in a school makes social distancing all but impossible," Pallister said.

It is already late in the school year and reopening for two months does not make sense, he said.

Pallister also noted that child care plays an important role in restoring services, enabling parents to return to the workplace, and said that remains a priority. However, he didn't outline a plan for that.

The Department of Families will continue to work with the child-care community to expand the temporary child-care services available, he said.

Roussin and Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said the health system's capacity at this time supports the province's move to begin reopening.

There are 2,432 acute care medical and surgical hospital beds in the system and as of April 26, 977 beds were vacant. As well, there are 86 adult intensive care hospital beds in the system, with 29 vacant.

This shows Manitoba is well within intensive care capacity at this time, they said.

WATCH | Premier Pallister on multi-phased reopening in the province | April 29, 2020:

Premier Brian Pallister announces multi-phased reopening

3 years ago
Duration 51:03
As of May 4, a variety of non-essential health care and retail businesses in Manitoba will have the option of reopening under strict guidelines.


Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent.