Non-essential Manitoba businesses to close April 1

23 new COVID-19 cases confirmed, along with first in north

Most of Manitoba will soon be shutting down. All non-essential businesses have to close on April 1 as part of a new provincial government measure.

Premier Brian Pallister announced all non-essential businesses have to close on April 1. He said the list of businesses that are ordered to close will be constantly updated and adapted.

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“There's not a magic manual for dealing with this pandemic because we don't have any,” Pallister said at a news conference March 30. 

“Apart from maybe the Spanish flu over 100 years ago, we don't really have an identical scenario or one that's that close. We have dealt with disease before. We've dealt with epidemics before, but the magnitude of the potential consequences of this one are greater than anything we've seen most of us in our lifetimes.”

Certain businesses can remain open, including grocery stores, but they must put in place measures that ensure physical distancing. The public health order does not prohibit remote or delivery based work.

Mining was included as an essential business.

“It’s been customary in other jurisdictions,” Pallister explained.

A full list of businesses deemed to be essential is attached to the order. The order says businesses will be closed until at least April 14.

“There were three or four other provinces that announced restrictions of various kinds on this and frankly, some of them are far along in terms of cases, or at a different stage in the cycle than we are,” Pallister said. 

“We feel these are prudent steps to take now and these are the measures that have been recommended to us and I support the doctor and we'll implement them.”

While the list was based off similar lists from other provinces, Pallister emphasized that the provincial list is Manitoba-based, and changes could be coming.

He said Flin Flon is a good example of how the province is dealing with issues on a case by case basis.

“If we had a two week isolation for everybody that went over to Creighton, or came from Creighton to [Flin Flon], we wouldn't be able to operate either community very effectively,” he said. 

“This is one example of where the doctor is shown… some excellent sensitivity to realities facing Manitobans and particularly Manitobans in the Flin Flon area.”

Later in the day, the first case of COVID-19 in the Northern Health Region was confirmed alongside 23 other cases in the province.

© Melita New Era