WINNIPEG — Manitobans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to return to museums, casinos and movie theatres when the province takes the next step in its reopening.
"Manitobans will be able to enjoy more freedoms," Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday.
The next stage is to begin Saturday rather than the August long weekend because the province reached its vaccination goals early. Nearly 78 per cent of eligible people have received at least one dose and more than 58 per cent have both.
Manitoba's vaccination rollout has been making steady progress in recent weeks. There has also been a sharp drop in daily case counts of late — 53 new infections were reported Wednesday and no deaths.
The next phase allows indoor gatherings of five people on top of those who live in a household and 25 people in indoor public spaces. Outdoor gatherings are expanded to 25 people on private property and 150 in public spaces.
Retail stores will be able to run at 50 per cent capacity or 500 people, whichever is lower. Restaurants and bars will also expand to 50 per cent capacity and will be allowed to be open until midnight.
Fitness centres will be open at 50 per cent capacity, but masks will still be required.
Outdoor weddings and funerals will be able to have up to 150 people and indoor events will have a limit of 25. Faith-based gatherings will expand to half capacity or 150 people indoors.
Pallister said some eased restrictions will specifically benefit Manitobans who have received two doses of vaccine. They will be able to go to movie theatres, bingo halls, casinos, museums and galleries.
"Fully immunized Manitobans ... will continue to enjoy even more benefits for doing their part to protect themselves and their community," he said.
Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 can also attend if they are with their fully vaccinated family members.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said the stands at an upcoming Blue Bombers CFL game will be fully open to fans who are doubly vaccinated.
Other large-scale outdoor events, including sports and concerts, can also go ahead with full capacity if public health approves their plan.
"We are now getting closer and closer to a post-pandemic Manitoba," Roussin said.
Roussin said the COVID-19 is still spreading in the province so loosening restrictions must take a measured approach. There are still 131 Manitobans in hospital due to the disease. Thirty-three people are in intensive care.
Roussin said vaccinations are the only way for the province to fully return to normal.
The province was hoping to get 20,000 doses administered Wednesday at vaccine supersites to people walking in without an appointment.
The next step to loosen restrictions is set for Labour Day in September. It requires 80 per cent of all eligible Manitobans to have a first dose and more than 75 per cent to have their second dose
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2021.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press