On Tuesday, November 10, 2020 the Premier and Chief Public Health Officer of the province of Manitoba announced that the whole province will be moving into the Red COVID designation. Further restrictions will come into effect as of Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 12:01 .a.m. for the period until December 11,2020.

Those restrictions include the closure of several non-essential businesses and the closure churches and other faith based organizations. Details of the public health order are now posted here.

There was a follow up conversation held with the leaders of faith-based communities on Tuesday afternoon, November 12, 2020 where questions were entertained for clarification.

Among the information shared:

  • The order is for churches and other places of worship to be closed to the public. 
  • No drive in or drive through services are permitted.
  • Like in any non-essential business , the preference is for staff so far as possible to work from home but staff can be in the building for work if adhering to all COVID 19 protocols.
  • There was acknowledgement that many Communities of Faith are providing virtual worship experiences for congregants. There were comments made that accessing the church building for taping of such services is permitted and “staff” required to produce a live stream are allowed.  Following safety precautions, using masks and social distancing (can be more than 5 people if needed but within reason and only as needed for the live stream production).
  • Funerals and weddings  indoors and outdoors will be restricted to a maximum of five people plus one officiant. There will be no option for cohorting of five person groups in separate physical rooms with separate entrances and washrooms to achieve a higher attendance at such an event.
  • Those operating a Food Bank out of a church building ( i.e. as a depot for Winnipeg Harvest) are permitted to continue.  The hope is to continue this with maximum five workers and curb-side pickup.

On November 12,2020 in his briefing with reporters, Dr. Roussin clarified some reasons behind the actual Public Health Orders not reflecting to the letter his primary messaging to stay at home when possible and socialize with household members only. He acknowledged that there are people who rely on different kinds of support from others in order to be able to stay at home safely.

The importance of following the spirit of these public health orders is being stressed. Our emphasis must not be on trying to find creative ways around them. Hopeful optimism was expressed that if we all do our part during these next two to four weeks we may achieve the desired outcome of beginning to flatten the curve.

Manitobans are encouraged to keep up to date with all police health orders online and to listen to the news briefings that happen most days during the week at 12: 30 p.m. on CBC radio. If you have questions for clarification you are encouraged to seek answers through Engage Manitoba.

If you do not receive a reply please be in touch with the Pastoral Relations Minister, Judy Hare  and we will try to access answers for you:  jhare@united-church.ca   or 204-421-8151