‘Can I still shop for baby clothes in Manitoba?’ and other COVID-19 restrictions questions answered

The toughest public health restrictions since the start of the pandemic came into effect in Manitoba on Friday. 

The new health orders forbid people from having any visitors inside their home, with few exceptions, and prohibit in-person sales of non-essential products and services.

In recent weeks, Manitoba has seen the highest per capita rate of new COVID-19 infections in Canada, as medical wards and intensive care units fill with patients. The new health orders aim to slow the spread of infections by limiting opportunities for Manitobans to interact with each other.

The restrictions will remain in place until at least Dec. 11. 

Many people wrote to CBC Manitoba and commented on stories asking about the new orders. Here are answers to some of the most common questions.

What can I still buy in-person?

The health orders limit in-person purchases to essential items and services only (though other items can still be ordered for delivery or curbside pickup).

The province has detailed lists of which businesses are allowed to continue operating under the health orders, and what products stores can sell. 

Non-essential items include anything not explicitly mentioned in Schedule B of the health order. 

“For certainty, this includes jewelry, flowers, perfume, consumer electronics, sporting equipment, books and toys,” the order says.

Other broad categories of products, such as clothing, are prohibited with some exceptions. The order allows for sales of winter outdoor apparel and infant clothing.

Other child-care accessories, such as diapers, wipes, baby bottles, car seats and cribs, can also be sold in-store.

The order allows in-store sales of food and food products, personal care and health products, household cleaning products, cellphones and accessories, major household appliances, tools and pet supplies, as well as tobacco, alcohol and cannabis products.

As for businesses, Schedule A of the health order outlines which are still allowed to operate. Others have to close.

Registered and regulated health professionals — such as physicians, dentists, optometrists and psychologists — can continue to see clients.

Massage therapists aren’t regulated in Manitoba, but those who are members of a professional association, such as the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba, are still allowed to offer services under the health order. Other non-regulated professionals, such as acupuncturists, cannot. 

Other essential businesses include those that provide accommodation, and financial or communications services, as well as those involved in supply chains, transportation, construction, agriculture and manufacturing. 

Who can I have over to my house?

In most cases, the orders forbid people to have anyone inside their home that doesn’t normally live there. 

A person who lives by themselves can have designate one other person who is allowed to come to their home, and they can visit the home of a designated person.

For the person living alone, their designated visitor does not have to also live alone. However, they could still not visit a home where multiple people live.

Anyone providing health care, personal care, or cleaning services is also allowed to enter a residence. So for example, a person visiting their elderly parents to help with household chores, or to care for them in some other way, would not violate the order.

People can also enter a home where they don’t live if they are a parent or guardian visiting their child, or if they are there to receive or provide child-care services. 

Other exceptions include people providing tutoring or education, construction and renovation, delivery, real estate and moving services, or responding to an emergency.

Can I still see people outside my home?

The increased restrictions on gatherings only apply to private residences. Provincewide public health restrictions that came into effect Nov. 12 limit gatherings to five people in public places, and the new orders don’t change that.

That allows for small events such as weddings, funerals and baptisms to take place.

It also means that two friends meeting up to go for a run, for example, would not violate the order. 

Officials still encourage people to follow public health advice, such as ensuring physical distancing, wearing a mask, covering a cough and washing hands frequently.