Manitoba is extending strict public health restrictions meant to curb COVID-19 for another two weeks, but an exemption to the orders will allow the Winnipeg Jets to play their upcoming NHL games at Bell MTS Place.
Manitoba has been under strict public health orders since mid-November that have forced non-essential businesses to close, barred public gatherings of more than five people, and forbidden most social visits in private homes.
A public health order that contains the restrictions had been set to expire at midnight Friday.
In a release Friday the province said aside from an adjustment that will allow professional hockey teams to play games and train, all other current Level Red restrictions will remain in place province-wide until at least Jan. 22.
“While we are starting to bend our COVID curve in the right direction, now is not the time to let up,” said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister in a government release.
“These public health orders are necessary to halt the spread of this deadly virus and protect our most vulnerable Manitobans.
“While we recognize these restrictions are difficult, they require the co-operation and commitment by all Manitobans to make them work. I continue to urge all Manitobans to follow the fundamentals, stay safe at home and limit your close contacts as much as possible.”
The number of daily COVID-19 cases has dropped sharply since the measures were introduced, but intensive care units are running above their normal capacity and elective surgeries have been postponed.
The province says health officials will monitor daily case numbers and watch for increases due to the holiday season over the next two weeks.
Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said Friday the province has seen more than 355 cases and nearly 1,900 contacts linked to holiday gatherings in recent days.
“That is why we’re extending the public health orders with a minor adjustment,” he said.
“We need to continue to protect our families and friends by staying home as much as possible.”
On Thursday provincial health officials announced another 12 COVID-19-related deaths and said another 208 Manitobans have been infected with the virus.
Since March Manitoba has recorded 25,742 lab-confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and 717 Manitobans with COVID-19 have died.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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