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Province to tailor COVID-19 response to areas of risk in fall

The provincial public health office will take a more risk-specific approach to public health restrictions in the fall, the chief Public Health Officer said in a webinar meeting this week.

As well, Manitoba announced today it is scaling back its draft plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings and business operations. Some of the Phase 4 elements will continue (click here for the details), some are revised and others – such as expanding travel into and out of Manitoba – are deferred.

On Monday, during a town-hall webinar, Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Public Health Officer, said the approach this fall would be more “surgical” during any resurgence of the coronavirus, or with general flu outbreaks typically seen in the season.

Roussin said his office would be looking to put necessary restrictions in place to contain risk of infection outbreaks as they arise or are necessary in specific areas to protect the vulnerable, rather than adopting the broadly based shutdown of the economy seen last March.

Roussin was in the webinar session Monday with Premier Brian Pallister and a number of cabinet ministers, taking questions from participants. 

Roussin stressed the risk of COVID-19 remains – the virus is more likely to spread among individuals who are in close, prolonged contact.

“This virus isn’t done with us yet, so we must continue practicing those important hygiene fundamentals — handwashing, social distancing, and staying home when we’re sick,” Roussin noted.

“We have to learn to live with this virus, so we are reminding all Manitobans to remain vigilant, and encouraging our business leaders to please continue working hard to keep employees and patrons safe as we re-open.”

Premier Pallister said it is important for Manitobans to “get our lives back.”

“Our goal here is not just to recover, it’s to recover fast,” he said. “We want to get Manitobans back to work, and we want do not want this recovery to be an L. Instead, we want it to be a V.”

The Premier noted that if we learned anything over the past few months, it’s just how inter-connected our social programs are with our economy.

“Provincial government expenses are up significantly, and revenues are down, so in order to ensure that the social programs that we all rely on are strong, we need to make sure that our business community and our economy are strong.”