Jeff Scharer is looking forward to finally catching a movie in a theater while on vacation from work next week.
For him, it is a step towards regaining some of the normality that has been lost due to COVID-19.
“We can start, you know, doing things we used to do … For many of us, I think it’s time,” said Scharer, who lives in Lockport, just north of Winnipeg. “We deserve it.”
New provincial public health orders went into effect in Manitoba on Saturday. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the new rules on Wednesday, saying while “this virus is not done with us … we are certainly able to loosen the restrictions.”
Manitobans can now have up to five visitors inside their homes, and up to 25 people can gather inside public spaces. Other changes include increases in outdoor collection sizes so restaurants can stay open later and an increase in maximum capacity to 50 percent for most businesses.
The province also announced that those who are fully vaccinated with two doses of a COVID-19 will have some other privileges, such as being allowed to go to cinemas, museums and be able to get a ticket to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ‘opens home next month.
“It’s nice to actually have some flexibility with what you want to do … versus ‘going home or going home,'” Scharer said.
For him, watching movies at home has just not been the same.
“I’ve been waiting so long to see a movie because I like going to the movies.”
Manitoba’s restriction on public health has been eased as the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 increases and the number of new cases begins to decline.
The province reported 62 new infections on Saturday. Manitoba’s seven-day new case average is 45, down from just under 49 on Friday.
The province’s online vaccine dashboard said as of Saturday, 77.4 percent of the population aged 12 and over have had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 61.1 percent are fully vaccinated.
The province had initially set a goal of having at least 75 percent vaccinated with a first dose and 50 percent fully vaccinated by August 2, saying that if that happened, the second of three stages of reopening could begin. Manitoba reached these vaccination targets nearly a month early so that the second phase could begin ahead of schedule.
‘The phone has exploded’: banquet manager
Recent changes in public health restrictions also mean that those who get married can now celebrate their big day with more people.
As of Saturday, outdoor weddings can have up to 150 people in addition to photographers and officers. The province says indoor weddings can have up to 25 people in addition to photographers and officiants.
“It’s definitely been pretty busy since about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday,” said Alyssa Peterson, bank manager at Pineridge Hollow, a restaurant and event center just northeast of Winnipeg.
“My phone has exploded, emails are coming through like crazy,” she told guest host Marjorie Dowhos in an interview with CBC Radio Up to speed on Friday.
Peterson said a couple got the news in time to nearly triple their guest list ahead of their wedding this weekend.
“They were super excited.”
She said that while it has been busy trying to ensure they have enough staff, food and supplies for increased guest lists, she welcomes the change.
“I’m happy to get closer to what my normal is,” she said. “I love the fast pace. I love making the events so I’m just happy to be able to do what I love again.”