A group of Manitoba photographers is calling on the province to let them get back to work capturing the moments people may be missing in the pandemic.
The group sent an open letter to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, asking for public health officials to amend the health orders when they expire to allow photographers and videographers to work.
More than 2,000 people have joined the call and signed a petition.
Sunny Szpak-Holly, the owner of Sunny S-H Photography and one of the organizers of the petition, said she believes photographers can operate safely.
"The majority of photography services can be done at a great distance," she said.
"We understand that the government has to do things slowly and carefully, but at the same time it is hard for us to stomach something when you can stand in line at Ikea, you can do a lot of things that we feel are riskier than what we do."
Szpak-Holly said photographers have been lumped into general personal services in Manitoba's public health orders, and at one point during the pandemic was considered a retail service.
"We kind of fall in a grey area that I don't think the government knows really where to put us," she said.
The petitioners say photographers can follow guidelines to make sure they are staying safe by following public health recommendations, pre-screening and keeping client information for contact tracing, and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
Szpak-Holly said there is a need for photography, which has been amplified by the pandemic.
"Especially right now, families are not able to see each other and a lot of families are relying on photography to share with people in other provinces, even people on the other side of the city," she said.
"They really want professional photography to help capture the moments that are happening right now."
Current public health orders in Manitoba are set to expire on Feb. 12. Provincial health officials said they would not speculate if these health orders will be extended or changed in any way.