Manitoba brings back 14-day quarantine for inbound western travellers, border town residents exempt

Manitoba has brought back a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for travellers coming in from B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, but don’t worry, Creighton and Denare Beach residents – you’re good.

Manitobans living in border communities like Flin Flon can continue travelling into Saskatchewan for essential trips, while Saskatchewan communities have no such barriers as of Jan. 26.

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The new restrictions will go into effect Jan. 27. There is no current scheduled end-date for the restrictions, which will likely be revisited once COVID-19 cases fall.

During a Jan. 26 press conference announcing the order, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said that people coming from outside Manitoba into the province who live in border communities will not be subject to the two-week quarantine rule.

When asked by the Brandon Sun’s Drew May, Pallister said normal interactions over provincial borders were not the target of the new measures.

“There’s normal interaction that is customary and in fact, in many cases, is considered essential along our borders with Saskatchewan and to some degree, with Ontario,” said Pallister.

“This order is not designed to stop people who are a few miles away from Yorkton and who are used to shopping there from shopping there. The requirements are there to stop non-essential travel – not specifically air, but air travel in particular – in our country without requirements for self-isolation being imposed, as has been the case up until now, for returning travels from western Canadian destinations.”

When asked by the CBC’s Bartley Kives, Pallister said out-of-province residents in border towns going to work or going shopping in Manitoba (such as Creighton or Denare Beach residents commuting back and forth to Flin Flon) will be exempted from the new rules and will be subject to the rules of their home province.

“That will be up to the province they’re returning to, not us,” said Pallister.

Exactly how far a community can be from the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border while still being considered a "border town" is unknown, leaving question marks for people living communities in Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay - however, exemptions from the two-week self-isolation period will be in effect for those travelling across provincial borders for essential needs, workers in essential fields and for medical treatment.

Pallister said the new measures were brought into place in part because of the emergence of a new, more dangerous variant of the disease that has appeared in several countries, including in parts of Canada. No cases of the variant have been found in Manitoba as of Jan. 26.

“Now is not the time for non-essential travel,” said Pallister.

In Saskatchewan, interprovincial travel is allowed and no 14-day quarantine is in effect for people coming into the province from elsewhere in Canada. People from outside the province coming into Saskatchewan are asked to observe all the province’s health orders, including gathering limits and physicial distancing.

Only international travellers coming into the province are meant to self-isolate for two weeks after arriving in the province unless they are frontline health workers, essential workers, rail, air and transport crews or other workers deemed critical to maintaining supply chains.

Interprovincial travel between western Canadian provinces was allowed without quarantine in the summer, when case counts in all four western Canadian provinces were far below present levels.

Manitobans outside their home province will have until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 28 to come back without having to complete the required two week self isolation period.

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