Manitoba COVID-19 update: new restrictions on retail stores, gatherings, new vaccine eligibility

The province has placed new limits on retail stores amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Premier Brian Pallister and chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the new restrictions on Monday, April 19, 2021.

Under the new orders, that kicked in at 12:01 AM today, retails stores must remain at 1/3 capacity or 333 customers, whichever is lower. Malls will be limited to 33 per cent capacity.

“Despite our best collective efforts and having some of the strictest measures in the country, COVID-19 cases and particularly variants of concern are on the rise,” Pallister said in a news release. “Introducing more restrictive measures is not what many of us want to hear right now, but it’s what we need to do to protect Manitobans and our health-care system.”

The additional public health orders include:

  • households can only have two designated visitors indoors
  • outdoor gatherings on public or private property are limited to 10 people including household members
  • faith-based gatherings are limited to 25 per cent capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower, with indoor masks orders in place except while household groups are seated at a service, are distanced from other groups and not singing
  • weddings and funerals are reduced to 10 people, excluding an officiant and photographer

These new orders will remain in effect until at least May 12, 2021.

Province announces updates to vaccine strategy

Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force announced on Monday it is lowering the age eligibility for the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which is available through clinics and pharmacies, to all people age 40 and up.

In addition to that, the province also expanded eligibility at supersites and pop-up clinics to Manitobans 52 and older and Indigenous people 32 and older.

Minister of Health and Seniors Care, Heather Stefanson announced this week the province is opening new supersites in north Winnipeg and Steinbach, and is setting up five urban immunization clinics aimed at increasing access for Indigenous Manitobans.

These clinics will be located at:

  • Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson, 4 Nelson Rd., Thompson
  • Brandon Friendship Centre, 205 College Ave. Brandon
  • Prairie Fusion Arts and Entertainment Centre, led by the Portage la Prairie Community Revitalization Corporation, 11 Second St. NE, Portage la Prairie
  • Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, 180 Higgins Ave. Winnipeg
  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre – Win Gardner Place, 363 MacGregor Ave. Winnipeg

The clinics are expected to open April 26, 2021.

According to the province’s vaccine information website it has administered 350,977 vaccine doses so far and 26.1 per cent of Manitobans are vaccinated.

People who are eligible can book vaccine appointments by calling 1-844-626-8222 or visiting protectmb.ca.

Manitoba considering loosening COVID-19 restrictions

The province of Manitoba may allow small group gatherings and re-open some businesses at limited capacity.

Premier Brian Pallister and chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin hinted at some possible changes to restrictions that could come into effect as early as 12:01 AM on Saturday, January 23, 2021.

The changes being considered include:

  • Household limits being increased to two people outside the home or five people if the gathering is held outdoors
  • Up to 10 people plus an officiant at funerals
  • Retails stores re-opening to public shoppers at a reduced occupancy of 25 per cent with a maximum of 250 people, with physical distancing measures remaining enforced
  • Non-regulated health services such as pedorthists and reflexologists re-opening with adequate physical distancing and requirements to collect information for contact tracing purposes
  • Barbershops and hair stylists re-opening at 25 per cent capacity with physical distancing and requirements to collect information on customers for contract tracing

Other things affected, such as bars, restaurants, religious services, and gyms were not on the list of considered establishments to re-open.

The province added stores may also be able to sell items that were deemed non-essential during code red and had to be closed off to customers.

Roussin says they are taking a very cautious approach because they want to avoid a spike in cases like the one that happened in the fall of 2020.

He added the Northern Health Region is seeing high case numbers and will remain in code red.

A final decision on the loosening of restrictions is expected to be made later this week.

Visit the province’s website for more information.

Futurpreneur News Updates

An organization that helps young entrepreneurs has released its final news bulletin of 2020.

Futurpreneur Canada has released information on a number of different topics that are pertinent to our clients and entrepreneurs across the country, including:

Stay tuned to our news section for more information important to your business.

CRA Simplifies Working From Home Tax Reduction

With unprecedented amounts of people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has made it easier for people to claim the home office expenses deduction.

Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier said in a release that people who spent more than 50 per cent of their time working from home over a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 are eligible to claim the deduction up to $400. The government has decreased the qualifying period for the deduction.

The CRA is also making it easier for anyone with larger home office expenses claims to keep using the current method to claim a deduction.

The government says:

A new temporary flat rate method will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home in that period, plus any other days they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400. Under this new method, employees will not have to get Form T2200 or Form T2200S completed and signed by their employer.

To simplify the process for employees choosing the detailed method, the CRA launched today simplified forms (Form T2200S and Form T777S) and a calculator designed specifically to assist with the calculation of eligible home office expenses.

Canada Revenue Agency
CBC News

A CBC News article written by Elizabeth Thompson says the government isn’t sure if they will extend the tax credit to people who are forced to keep working from home in the new year.

The article also quotes a Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, that says an estimated 2.4 million Canadians who do not normally work from home were doing so in October.

For more information on working from home expenses go to Canada.ca/cra-home-workspace-expenses.