In-person non-essential sales allowed in north, but not in Flin Flon/The Pas/Thompson: province

Stores in Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson are not allowed to sell non-essential items in person.

Some stores in northern Manitoba are allowed to sell non-essential items in person, but none in those three communities.

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According to order 5(7) in the recent provincial public health orders from the Manitoba government, retail locations in northern Manitoba are exempt from orders 5(1) and 5(2), except for stores in Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson. Stores in communities like Snow Lake or Lynn Lake are allowed to keep non-essential items on store floors, freely available to customers, while stores in Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson must take all non-essential items off shelves and away from public view due to provincial health orders.

"Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to retail businesses in northern Manitoba, other than retail businesses in Thompson, Flin Flon and The Pas," reads order 5(7). 

Order 5(1) restricts all Manitoba businesses still open under the province's "code red" pandemic response designation to sell only essential items to people in person, while order 5(2) calls for all non-essential items to be removed from public access or marked as "not for sale" as of Nov. 21.

A provincial health spokesperson confirmed to The Reminder Nov. 20 that northern locales outside the three towns will be able to sell non-essential items in person.

"The new health orders, specifically 5(1) and 5(2), do not apply to northern Manitoba businesses outside Flin Flon, The Pas or Thompson. This means northern businesses outside these communities can continue to sell or display non-essential goods due to the limited access of these items through online sales and curbside pick up," said the spokesperson.

A provincial government news release published Nov. 21 added some confusion to the mix. An error in the original release implied that non-essential items would be allowed for in-person sale in Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson. That statement was incorrect - while non-essential items are still purchaseable in the three towns, they can only be bought online, by distance or through curbside pick-up. The news release was later fixed, showing the correct information - a provincial government spokesperson confirmed that the original press release was incorrect and was later fixed.

"This exemption [order 5(7)] also applies throughout northern Manitoba, except in Thompson, Flin Flon and The Pas," reads the updated Nov. 21 news release, without the error.

Five remote communities below the 53rd parallel not previously covered by order 5(7) - Berens River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi, Poplar River and Sapotaweyak - have been added to the list of communities where non-essential items can be sold in-person. Other changes have been made to what is or is not considered an essential product, including newspapers, gift cards and prepaid credit cards - these goods will remain on store shelves for public purchase.

Non-essential businesses in Manitoba have been closed under provincial health order throughout the province, with essential businesses able to remain open, but capped at either 25 per cent capacity or 250 people - whichever is lower.

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