Fully vaccinated Manitobans will soon have more privileges, including being able to go to local movie theatres and museums and being allowed to attend the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ home opener.
As well, all Manitobans will be allowed gather in greater numbers at home or outside as of Saturday, when the province’s pandemic rules loosen.
The province announced today most spaces will be able to open to 50 per cent capacity this weekend as part of the next stage of Manitoba’s reopening.
Manitobans who have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will also be able to go to a movie theatre or visit a museum, casino, gallery or bingo halls.
“This is a positive step today,” Premier Brian Pallister said during a Wednesday news conference announcing the changes, which come into effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m. “Despite the progress we’ve made … there’s more work to do.”
Pallister and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin also announced a range of relaxed rules for public and private gatherings.
Roussin said large outdoor professional sports and performing arts events can operate at up to 100 per cent capacity, assuming public health approves individual plans.
Specifically, public health has approved a plan for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to operate at 100 per cent for their first game of the abbreviated CFL season, scheduled for Aug. 5. Attendance at that game will be open only to fully vaccinated people, Roussin said.
As of Saturday, Manitobans will be able to have up to five people indoors at their homes, not including members of that household. Indoor gatherings in public spaces will also be allowed up to 25 people.
Outdoor gatherings on private property will be allowed up to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings on public property will be allowed up to 150.
The restaurant and retail sectors will also see considerable increases to capacity sizes and hours of operation as of Saturday.
Retail business can reopen at 50 per cent capacity, or 500 people, whichever is lower.
Restaurants, food courts and licensed facilities that serve food be able to stay open until midnight. Capacity sizes will move up to 50 per cent, though outdoor patio seating remains at eight people.
Another current restaurant dining rule remains in place: you can only eat inside with people you live with, unless everyone at the table 12 and up is fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated kids under the age of 12 may also eat with a table of fully immunized people.
Salons, hairdressers and massage therapists can open at half capacity to a maximum of 25 people. Appointments are no longer required.
Gyms, libraries, wedding capacities up
Capacity at gyms and fitness centre also goes up to 50 per cent as of Saturday. Masks must be worn and people must keep at least three metres between them.
Libraries can open at half capacity or 150 people, whichever is lower.
Faith-based and cultural gatherings can increase to 50 per cent or 150 people, whichever is lower, though people must wear masks and distance themselves from those from other households. Outdoor gatherings will open to 150 people. Drive-in services may continue.
Outdoor weddings and funerals can have up to 150 people present, including photographers and officiants. Indoor services will be able to have 25 guests, not including officiants and photographers.
Dance, theatre and musical school facilities will see capacities increase to 50 per cent or 25 people.
Indoor sports facilities and day camps for youth can have groups of 25, though joint activities between groups isn’t allowed.
Outdoor recreation — games and practices — can have 50 people, with spectators allowed to watch on the sidelines without it counting toward group size limits. Tournaments, however, still aren’t allowed.
Hitting vaccine targets early
So far, 76.7 per cent of Manitobans 12 and up have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 58.5 per cent have received two.
Manitoba’s staged process initially tied loosening restrictions to reaching vaccine milestones by three holidays: Canada Day in July, Terry Fox Day (Aug. 2) and Labour Day in September.
The province topped its second-stage goal last week, about a month ahead of schedule, when more than 75 per cent of eligible people had received one dose and 50 per cent had received two.
Pallister has previously said that if immunization goals are met early, changes to health orders could come ahead of schedule, too.
Manitoba also met its first vaccination goal early, when it hit 25 per cent fully vaccinated and 70 per cent with first doses on June 21 — over a week ahead of the July 1 target.
The province’s third and final goal in the reopening plan is to have 80 per cent of eligible Manitobans with at least one vaccine dose and 75 per cent with two doses by Sept. 6.