Manitoba eyes reopening some businesses amid steady coronavirus numbers

The Manitoba government is putting the finishing touches on a plan to loosen restrictions connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is warning that large public gatherings will not be permitted any time soon.

“What I’m going to be telling you next week is … a game plan that we can follow — provided that we don’t place additional unnecessary risks on our population — to get our economy and our social life back on track,” Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday.

Chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said the plan will include a gradual lifting of restrictions.

Some non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen and a 10-person limit on public gatherings might be raised in the near future, he said.

Pallister said church services and dine-in restaurants might be able to restart at some point.

But it is clear that large crowds, including public attendance at major sporting events, are a long way off.

“Large group gatherings are not a thing in our foreseeable future, and even when we do start moving the economy, things like that physical distancing are going to be in place for quite some time,” Roussin said.

There have been a relatively low number of cases in Manitoba compared with other provinces.

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Roussin announced two new cases for a total of 257 since the pandemic began. With more people recovering than testing positive, the number of active cases fell to 97.

RCMP said that while many have followed public health orders, its members issued $486 tickets to three people after a recent house party in The Pas.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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