What Manitobans need to know about the new COVID-19 rules for gyms, restaurants and beyond
No changes to social gatherings, but dining in, museums, art galleries and libraries are back
Manitoba's partial lockdown is about to get a little more bearable.
The province will again be easing the restrictions that have hung over Manitobans since last November, and there are plenty of things to keep in mind about the new rules.
Some of the rules, which take effect Friday for the next three weeks, will be familiar to Manitobans from the first time the province emerged from a lockdown last year. But there are many new variations for a broad range of services and facilities.
One important change in the latest set of rules is that it applies to the entire province. The first stage of reopening exempted northern Manitoba because of exploding case counts.
Here's what you need to know about the new public health rules:
Can I visit with family and friends?
There's no change in the rule when it comes to personal gatherings. It's still only five people maximum for outdoor gatherings. Outdoor gatherings on personal property may have five people in addition to household members.
Families can still allow two designated visitors inside their homes, but the visitors can't change. They must be the same two visitors for the duration of the public health order. The same exemptions for those living alone are in place.
In the last round of loosened rules, from Jan. 23 until Feb. 11, funerals could have 10 guests, plus an officiant. The same gathering size now also applies to weddings. On top of that, weddings are allowed to have a photographer or videographer present.
Restaurants can allow in-person dining but what are the rules?
Much like last year's restaurant reopenings, eateries have a slew of rules for the return of dine-in customers. This time, they are only allowed to welcome 25 per cent of their usual seating capacity. More than two metres must exist between tables, they must close their doors to customers at 10 p.m. and any music must be no louder than 80 decibels. Customers cannot dance, nor can they have liquor without ordering a meal. Food cannot be served in a buffet style.
One of the significant changes for restaurants, though, is the requirement that only household members can dine together at a table. A household's designated visitors may not join the group. The province's rationale is that it's hard to verify who is a designated visitor, while restaurants can ask customers for an ID showing an address to check if they live together.
What about sports?
The first round of loosened restrictions after the second wave of coronavirus cases saw outdoor rinks open up but only for individual practice. Now, those flocking to the rinks or other outdoor sporting facilities can play organized games or practices. Tournaments are still barred.
Indoor fitness facilities fall into a few camps. At fitness centres, gyms and yoga studios, customers can get one-on-one training and practise or work out on their own. They will have to don masks and won't get to use change rooms except to use the washrooms.
It's more restrictive for the second group of facilities, which can only offer individual training. One person is allowed in to watch the training session. No working out on your own at these places. And the facility must make sure it doesn't exceed 25 per cent capacity.
The list of facilities covered by this is long: hockey and curling rinks, volleyball and basketball courts, indoor soccer fields, bowling alleys, squash, racquetball, handball, tennis and badminton courts, archery and rifle ranges, bowling alleys, indoor skateboard parks, indoor driving ranges, martial arts studios, gymnastics clubs, dance studios, swimming pools and climbing centres.
This doesn't, however, prevent students from playing basketball or volleyball in school.
There is also a specific mention of ski facilities in the public health order. It says they can open their indoor premises if they ensure people are distanced.
Dressing rooms, warming shacks and other indoor facilities for outdoor sports are still not allowed, though washrooms can open.
As well, the puck can drop for games for professional hockey and Western Hockey League teams. Athletes identified as potential competitors at future Olympics or Paralympic Games have permission to train at indoor athletic facilities.
What about arts and entertainment?
Museums, art galleries and libraries can welcome customers again. They are limited to 25 per cent capacity or up to 250 people, whichever is lower.
As it stands, the City of Winnipeg has a limited number of libraries open for contactless pickup of books placed on hold and there are plans to ramp up the number of libraries offering them. They are recalling staff to do so, but it may take time to ready the facilities for patrons to browse the shelves. It'll be up to the city to decide when that happens.
What about therapeutic and other services?
Hair salons and barbershops threw open their doors to shaggy-haired customers in the last loosening of restrictions on Jan. 22, as did pedorthists and Reiki providers.
Starting Friday, the list of services now available to Manitobans include tanning, tattooing, manicures and pedicures. Like many other places, 25 per cent capacity is the maximum and clients must be kept apart from each other.
Can I worship with others?
Religious services are back on, but capacity limits will be stricter than most other businesses, services and activities in this swath of reopenings.
Worship services at churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and elsewhere cannot exceed 10 per cent of their usual capacity or 50 persons, whichever is lower.
What about retail?
The same rules apply as the last easing of the rules in January. Retail businesses can sell their wares, but must limit shoppers to 25 per cent of their usual capacity or 250 persons, whichever is lower.
In one change, food courts in shopping centres and malls can open their tables again. People could previously buy food from various restaurants, but couldn't sit with their meal.
What else is in the rules?
One important change in this round of rule loosening involves self-help groups that focus on addictions or other health issues. Members can gather together in groups of up to 15 people or 25 per cent their usual capacity, whichever is lower.
Also, photographers can work not only at weddings and funerals, but also at their businesses. They still can't enter homes, though.
- We initially reported that outdoor gatherings on personal property are restricted to five people, including household members. In fact, the rules allow five people in addition to household members.Feb 12, 2021 7:50 AM CT