UPDATE DEC 14, 2020: The province of Manitoba has published an updated supporting document to their latest health order to help provide additional clarity as to what is considered essential (or not) within essential categories. Amendments include the return of fabric softener, and expansion to what is allowed under the category of postage stamps, school supplies and holiday décor. The December 12 Health Order remains in effect until January 8, 2021 and RCC continues to advocate for the reopening of all retail under the next health order.
With community spread and health system demands remaining high, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer has announced that Manitoba’s current rules on retail have been extended until January 8, 2021.
RCC held numerous senior level discussions over the past few days and weeks with government aimed at securing support for the reopening of all retail stores with strict capacity restrictions or by appointment, if all else failed. We have also emphasized the financial impact on all retailers in Manitoba with additional emphasis on stores that have seasonal so-called ‘non-essential’ inventory locked up under these COVID measures.
Despite our efforts, only minor adjustments have been included in the new Health Order that comes into effect on Saturday, December 12:
- Allowing for the sale of holiday decorations such as garlands and ornaments, and religious items like menorahs and candles.
- Adding school supplies as an essential item under the restrictions to retail services.
- Allowing thrift stores to open with some capacity limits, to allow access to second-hand clothing and other items.
All retailers may continue to sell any products online and offer curbside pickup or delivery. Northern regions with less populated communities have received an exception that will remain in the Health Order.
Clarity document of “essential products”
The updated orders and the list of items deemed essential will be posted here.
Acknowledging the complexity of defining non-essential items, the Manitoba government has prepared a clarity document intended to provide guidance to retail businesses and inspectors on what are “essential” items. While not exhaustive, it is an improvement and will be updated to reflect amendments in the new Health Orders. RCC has been pushing for more precision on what is or is not ‘essential’.
Retail stores allowed to operate must continue to
- Limit the number of members of the public shopping at the business to 25 per cent of the usual capacity of the premises or 250 people, whichever is lower;
- Implement measures to ensure that members of the public attending the business are reasonably able to maintain a separation of at least two metres from other members of the public; and,
- Establish a system to ensure compliance with the capacity limits and provide proof that the capacity limits have not been exceeded on request from a person.
Important improvements to inspector visits
RCC believes that it has been successful in pushing for major improvements in addressing the frustrations many retailers have expressed about interactions with Manitoba’s Health Order inspectors.
Following a meeting between RCC and Manitoba Justice, we have received confirmation that effective immediately:
- All inspectors will carry credentials available for presentation upon request.
- Inspector visits will be limited to a maximum of once daily, unless follow-up is required.
- Inspectors will undergo additional training, and a new policy will be implemented requiring that prior to a G4S Business ticket being issued, the on-call Public Health Inspector be consulted to verify the evidence. This will assist with consistency.
Manitoba Bridge Grant program extended and enhanced
The Manitoba government is expanding its Manitoba Bridge Grant program and extending the deadline in support of businesses impacted by current public health restrictions.
The program provides $5,000 upfront to businesses ordered to close to the public.
The program will now include home-based businesses. A second $5,000 will also be automatically issued to applicants in January 2021 due to the extension of Health Order measures. The deadline for applications for both streams of the Manitoba Bridge Grant is December 31, 2020.
For more information, contact John Graham, Director of Government Relations (Prairie Region), at email@example.com