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The city is cancelling parks bookings for 10 or more people, as well as any city-led public events, following a surge in local COVID-19 cases that led the province to raise Winnipeg’s official pandemic risk level.
The City of Winnipeg will also limit gathering sizes for weddings and funerals on city property to 10 or fewer people, while more restrictions could be considered soon.
The initial changes will take effect Monday, when the province will deem Winnipeg to be in the "restricted" orange category within its pandemic response system. The province will then impose a 10-person maximum on indoor and outdoor gatherings and mandate mask use in all indoor public places.
Jason Shaw, Winnipeg’s assistant chief of emergency management, said he believes new gathering restrictions don’t apply to city libraries, recreation centres or arenas, and don’t affect Winnipeg Transit.
However, Shaw said city officials are still seeking further clarification from the province to ensure that is the case.
"Now that we have the official wording, we’re going to take a moment to assess and make sure that we’ve got things right," he said. "We believe, at this point, that these health orders don’t affect recreation, libraries and things of that nature," he said.
Shaw said the city’s initial impression is that existing public health orders that govern those spaces still apply, instead of the new ones set to be imposed on Monday. To ensure that’s the case, he promised to seek further details from the provincial government.
"We support what the province has done here to protect Winnipeggers and we want to make sure that we’re following in the spirit and in the law of how they’re making these policies work," said Shaw.
He said the cancelled city events will include in-person public engagement sessions. Shaw said the city is still assessing whether the public can continue to register to speak to council and its committees in-person or if Winnipeggers will be restricted to doing so only through virtual means.
The Manitoba government announced 44 new COVID-19 cases within the Winnipeg health region on Friday, bringing the city’s overall number of active cases to 401.
Mayor Brian Bowman urged Winnipeggers to overcome this pandemic "setback" by following all public health orders as closely as possible.
"We do need to get back on track and flatten the curve again and we’ll do it by getting back to the basics. And so I would urge Winnipeggers, please continue to wash your hands frequently, practise physical distancing and wear a mask," said Bowman.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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