The longest emergency in Manitoba history has ended but, in many ways, lives on.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, the provincewide state of emergency under the Emergency Measures Act officially expired because it is no longer required, the Manitoba government announced in a news release.
It was declared March 20, 2020, and was the first provincewide state of emergency.
Public health orders are still in effect, and Manitobans need to continue to follow public health guidelines around the use of masks and vaccinations, the province said Thursday.
With the COVID-19 pandemic not over and the fourth wave of the virus still raging in much of Western Canada, Oct. 21, 2021, won't be considered a significant date 100 years from now, says the president of the Manitoba Historical Society.
"Speaking as an historian, but also as a biologist, I think that lifting of the 'state of emergency' is merely a political action that will have no long-term historical resonance," said Gordon Goldsborough. "I do not think that future historians will look at today as marking the 'end of the pandemic.'
"COVID-19 will likely be with us for months, if not years, from now. Its impact, on the other hand, decreases as we get a higher proportion of the population properly immunized, so the sooner the anti-vaxxers give their head a shake and get two jabs, the better."
Public health orders can continue to be issued through the Public Health Act without a declared provincewide state of emergency. A new state of emergency could be ordered if needed, the province said.
The declaration had allowed for a number of emergency orders to be made beyond the scope of the Public Health Act that are no longer needed or have been addressed through amendments to the act, the province said Thursday.
The state of emergency enabled the Manitoba government to restrict staff movement between personal care homes to help protect residents from the spread of COVID-19. Amendments have since been made to the Public Health Act to be address that.
It also allowed for the temporary suspension of orders around corporate meeting provisions to allow for virtual meetings and for in-person commissioning and witnessing to be done remotely. Its power was used to make orders to allow for extended provincial government reporting deadlines in 2020-21 because organizational resources were being redeployed to address the impacts of the pandemic.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.