Province could temporarily shut down businesses with COVID-19 transmission

WINNIPEG — Over the course of the pandemic, a variety of workplaces have been forced to close temporarily due to restrictions or COVID-19 outbreaks.

Now, into the third wave, the province is changing its focus and steering away from closing only non-essential businesses.

“For essential and non-essential businesses, we’re going to be having that ability to close businesses on a targeted basis where we’re seeing transmission occur,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.

Roussin said businesses are required to report to Public Health if they have two or more cases of COVID.

“If we look at overall acquisition events, we see about 10 per cent both acquisition and transmission related to workplaces right now,” said Roussin.

The province is encouraging anyone who is able to work from home to do so, but for many that’s not possible.

“There are a number of well-established protocols out there that we need to make sure every workplace is following,” said Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck.

“People need to have the right personal protective equipment. They need to have a say in what that right equipment is for them.”

ICU physician Dr. Anand Kumar said the more transmissible variants of COVID-19 are causing different complications than in the first and second waves.

“In the past, we would see patients who were diagnosed, they would go home, self-isolate, and everybody else in the family would be fine,” said Kumar. “Right now, we’re seeing just the opposite.”

Kumar said there are a number of industries that are truly essential, while others have been labelled as such.

“Manufacturing for example, construction, other examples of the same thing. Those people should be asked to stay at home, and frankly, we should provide the support that allows them to do that without sacrificing income.”

Premier Brian Pallister was asked about the status of provincial employees. He said about a third were back working in government offices, but noted messaging will be going out for whoever can work from home to do so.

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