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Schools in Winnipeg and Northern Manitoba will be under new restrictions beginning Monday, Oct. 26.

The Manitoba government announced the measures on Thursday, Oct. 22, noting the rules are due to the rising number of cases in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, as well as Northern Manitoba.

The restrictions will remain in place as long as these two regions are under the orange or restricted level on the province’s pandemic response system.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, noted Manitoba has seen minimal COVID-19 transmission in schools.

“We are seeing, though, widespread community transmission, so this increases the amount of cases we see in school, even though they’re not acquired in school,” he said.

The new measures for schools include:

  • Ensuring physical distancing to the greatest extent possible;
  • Removing excess furniture from classrooms to create more space;
  • Repurposing areas of schools, such libraries, multi-purpose rooms and shared spaces, to accommodate distancing;
  • Requiring teachers and staff who move between cohorts to wear medical-grade masks; and
  • Offering a temporary remote learning option for Kindergarten to Grade 8 students.

Under these new restrictions, extracurricular activities are only permitted if all learning and distancing requirements are met. For sports, distance must be maintained when participants aren’t playing. Indoor choirs and the use of wind instruments aren’t allowed.

Schools must also postpone or cancel all field trips.

All remaining public health orders for schools are still in effect.

MORE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE NORTH

On Thursday, Oct.22, the province also announced it’s tightening restrictions for the Northern Health Region, as well as Churchill.

These new rules come into effect on Monday, Oct.26 and will remain in place for at least two weeks.

The new restrictions for these regions include:

  • Reducing gathering sizes
  • Closing casinos, bingo halls, and entertainment facilities with a licence under the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Control Act that requires licensees to present live entertainment, with the exception of providing takeout food or delivery;
  • Limiting occupancy at licensed businesses, retail businesses, and restaurants to 50 per cent capacity;
  • Limiting occupancy of personal service businesses to 50 per cent of the usual occupancy, or one person for every 10 square metres that is open to the public, whichever is less;
  • Requiring restaurants or licensed premises, theatres, museums, galleries, libraries, personal service businesses, concert halls, and fitness facilities to keep contact information for people coming to their facilities and maintain the records for 21 days.

Roussin said these new rules are due to rising case numbers, increased test positivity and increased community transmission.

- With files from CTV’s Charles Lefebvre.