Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
 


Definitions of Vital Services, Critical Infrastructure and Exemption Criteria for Self-Isolation for Out-of-Province Workers


On April 30, 2020, the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer issued a public heath emergency order under The Public Health Act (the "self-isolation order") requiring that all individuals entering Manitoba/returning from travel outside Manitoba must undergo a 14-day self-isolation period. However, the order specifies some exceptions to the mandatory self-isolation requirements. Information here helps businesses define vital services, and provides guidance on self-isolation expectations for workers from out-of-province.


On April 30, 2020, the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer issued a public heath emergency order under The Public Health Act (the “self-isolation order”) requiring that all individuals entering Manitoba/returning from travel outside Manitoba must undergo a 14-day self-isolation period. The self-isolation order can be viewed here:
manitoba.ca/asset_library/en/proactive/2020_2021/orders_soe_selfisolation_04302020.pdf

The requirements of the self-isolation order are summarized as follows:

  • Upon entering or arriving in Manitoba, an individual must travel directly to their home, hotel or other residence and must, except as permitted by the self-isolation order, stay at that location for 14 days, or for the duration of an individual’s stay in Manitoba if it is less than 14 days.
  • Limited outings from an individual’s residence is allowed to undertake essential errands or to visit a healthcare provider. These activities must occur in conjunction with the two metre/six feet social distancing measures, and the time spent away from one’s residence should be minimized.

The self-isolation order specifies some exceptions to the mandatory self-isolation requirements. Please see the self-isolation order for a complete list of the exceptions.

A number of questions have been raised in relation to the application of the following exception to the self-isolation requirements:

  • 2(b) persons who are engaged in providing vital services in Manitoba, including health care providers, police officers, emergency services personnel, corrections officers, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, social service workers, elected officials and their staff, as well as workers engaged in the construction or maintenance of critical infrastructure, if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19;

Questions have focused on the definition of vital services, and on self-isolation expectations for workers from out-of-province.


  • The self-isolation order includes a list of persons who are considered to be engaged in providing vital services in Manitoba. This is not an exhaustive list as it is not possible to list all vital service providers. Generally, vital services are key services in the protection of the physical, mental and public health and safety of the population and the construction and maintenance of critical infrastructure that supports the basic functions of society. Generally, critical infrastructure includes:
    • public infrastructure such as water control works, highways, bridges
    • electrical infrastructure
    • waste and sewage systems
    • telephone and internet services
    • infrastructure specific to a business or industry if failure to maintain or construct such infrastructure could lead to significant harm to Manitobans, or to the environment

For the purposes of the application of the above-noted exception in the self-isolation order, businesses can be divided into the following four categories, the first two of which are not eligible for an exemption, while the second two require a review by public health for exemption consideration:

  • Businesses that are currently required to remain closed. These businesses do not provide vital services .
  • Businesses that are allowed to be open that are not providing vital services. This includes retail stores, restaurants, bars and lounges, businesses that provide personal services such as hairstyling, nail grooming and other esthetic services, gyms, sports and other recreational facilities.
  • Businesses that fall into the category of construction, food processing and manufacturing or a business that provide support to vital industry, such as a manufacturing company that produces supplies for water works. These businesses may or may not be undertaking vital services and require review by public health.
  • Businesses that are providing vital services. In these cases, even if some employees are providing vital services, an assessment is required to determine if each individual employee coming to Manitoba to work for the business will be providing a vital service. For example, a worker doing essential construction or maintenance work needed to maintain vital services for Manitobans, such as water works, road or bridge repair, hydro work or environmental protection work would be providing vital services. A person coming to Manitoba to provide support services to one of these industries, such as clerical work that not urgently required in the next 14 days, would not be considered to be providing vital services and would not be exempt.

Questions as to whether a person coming to Manitoba is subject to any of the exceptions to the self-isolation order can be directed to askhealth@gov.mb.ca.


Employers are encouraged to use human resources from within Manitoba if possible, even workers providing vital services as they are exempt from the self-isolation requirements. If out-of-province workers entering Manitoba are not exempt from the requirements of the self-isolation order they must adhere to the self-isolation order as described and linked above. In Manitoba, it is the responsibility of the employer to make arrangements with the workers for the cost for housing, including their period of self-isolation and wages during isolation.

To protect the health of other workers and the public, even if a person fits within an exception to the self-isolation requirements, the employer should review whether they require a person travelling to Manitoba to start work immediately given that there is an increased risk to other employees and potentially to the public. For example, the business may have enough workers to adequately provide the essential services while the out-of-province worker is self-isolating. A person who is subject to an exception to the self-isolation order should try as much as possible to self-isolate for the protection of others. This may include following the order if their employer has determined they are not required to start work immediately or they are self-isolating outside of the workplace if they are required to start work immediately.

The following are additional guidelines to help protect the safety of workers and the public in relation to out-of-province workers, who fit within an exception to the self-isolation order:

  • Workers should:
    • self-isolate when not at work, only leaving to attend to essential errands or to visit a healthcare provider for the first 14 days upon arrival to Manitoba;
    • follow good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene practices;
    • practice physical distancing from others;
    • Where social distancing is not possible, consider non-medical masks or personal protective equipment;
    • self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19;
    • undergo health screening procedures used at their workplace; and
    • isolate in residence away from other workers or other lodging if symptoms develop, and seek health care if required.
  •  Employers should:
    • ensure all safety measures applicable to their workplace are being enforced and followed;
    • provide health screening procedures for all employees; and
    • provide all the necessary training, safe work processes, supervision, and personal protective equipment or non-medical masks related to the tasks and hazards in the workplace.