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Manitoba announces two phased loosening of COVID 19 restrictions

Last Updated Mar 2, 2021 at 6:10 pm CDT

WINNIPEG _ The Manitoba government is loosening some of its COVID-19 restrictions as its case numbers continue to drop.

“These changes, once again, are cautious changes to ensure we continue to protect and safeguard Manitoba lives,” Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday.

Starting Friday, people will be allowed to have another entire household visit in their home, and outdoor public gatherings can increase to 10 people from five.

Maximum capacity at stores and restaurants will increase to 50 per cent from 25, and indoor religious services can run at 25 per cent capacity, up from 10.

WATCH: Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister provide an update on COVID-19 in Manitoba

Licensed establishments can reopen their video lottery terminals.

Some facilities, such as casinos, bingo halls and concert venues, must continue to remain closed.

The province brought in significant restrictions last fall that shut down restaurants and limited group sizes after a surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

The number of new cases has significantly dropped in recent weeks. On Monday, the five-day test positivity rate was at 3.9 per cent provincially and three per cent for Winnipeg.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said there are still a number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19. He also warned there are variants of concern present in the province.

“We know that the virus itself is still circulating in Manitoba,” he said.

The loosening of some restrictions is not a sign that life is returning to normal, he added. People must remain cautious, wear a mask and stay home if they are ill.

“We are getting closer,” Roussin said. “But we still have more work to do.”