WINNIPEG - Both citizens and business leaders in Manitoba are expressing mixed reaction to announcements by the province of small, cautious changes to public health orders, with some expressing disappointment, and others relieved by the small glimmer of hope the continued reopening could be signalling.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the health order adjustments on Tuesday, prompting the president and CEO of Toronto-based cinema giant Cineplex to express his frustration in separate statements to each province regarding both Manitoba’s and Alberta’s decisions to keep theatres closed. Ellis Jacob says the news about the ongoing Critical-level pandemic response was devastating, and that Canadian cinemas are safer than other indoor venues like big box stores and restaurants.
But Fusion Grill owner Scot McTaggart says that’s a generalization that doesn’t help anyone, noting that the film and food service industries complement each other “Mr. Jacob would better serve our entertainment industry by advocating for what we are all doing to keep our guests & staff safe,” McTaggart says. “We all have challenges. Let’s work together to help our legislators make informed decisions.”
After considering reopening theatres, casinos, and concert halls, Roussin says they’ll need to stay closed for now amid rising variant case numbers. "We felt, looking at other jurisdictions, looking at variants of concern, that it just wouldn't be prudent at this time to go with all of what we proposed," Roussin says. “Our path is continuing to loosen, but we just wanted to be quite cautious at this point.”
Outdoor cinemas and other outdoor events did get a small break Tuesday with the announcement that those attending drive-in events will be permitted to leave their vehicles briefly, provided they follow other rules like physical distancing.
Other changes that did get the green light include increases to outdoor gathering limits, weddings, and funerals. A 50 per cent capacity limit for retailers can now go up to a maximum of 500 people instead of the current 250. Funerals and weddings will be permitted to have 25 people attend, up from the current 10.
As for the restaurant industry, it will continue under much of the current restrictions for now, including a requirement for only one household to be seated at each table. The new set of health orders come into effect just after midnight on Friday.