Fully vaccinated Manitobans will soon have more privileges, including being able to go to movie theatres and museums and being allowed to attend the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' home opener.
As well, all Manitobans will be allowed to gather in greater numbers at home or outside as of Saturday, when the province's pandemic rules loosen.
The province announced Wednesday that most spaces will be able to open to 50 per cent capacity after the new rules come into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Manitobans with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will also be able to visit museums, galleries or bingo halls, as well as casinos and movie theatres, which have been closed since last fall.
"This virus is not done with us … but we're definitely in a position to be able to loosen the restrictions," Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said during a Wednesday news conference.
He and Premier Brian Pallister also announced a range of relaxed rules for public and private gatherings.
WATCH | Roussin announces looser restrictions:
Bombers game open only to fully vaccinated
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.
Public health approved a plan for the Bombers to operate at 100 per cent for their first game of the abbreviated CFL season, scheduled for Aug. 5. Attendance 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. Up to 25 people will be allowed at indoor gatherings in public spaces.
Outdoor gatherings on private property will be allowed up to 25 people. Outdoor gatherings on public property will be allowed up to 150.
Capacity increase for restaurants, retail
The restaurant and retail sectors will see considerable increases to capacity and hours of operation.
On Saturday, retail business can reopen at 50 per cent capacity, or 500 people, whichever is lower.
Restaurants, food courts and licensed facilities can stay open until midnight. Capacity sizes will move up to 50 per cent, though outdoor patio seating remains at eight people per table.
Another current restaurant dining rule remains in place: Indoor dining is only allowed with people in your own household, unless everyone at the table aged 12 and up is fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated kids under 12 may also eat with a table of fully immunized people.
Businesses providing personal services, such as hair salons, can open at half capacity to a maximum of 25 people. Appointments are no longer required.
Gyms, libraries, wedding capacities increase
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 stay distanced from those in 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, not 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. Tournaments, however, still aren't allowed.
Dr. Philippe Lagacé-Wiens, a medical microbiologist at Winnipeg's St. Boniface Hospital, said it takes about two incubation periods, or four weeks, to start to see changes in transmission rates after restrictions are adjusted. The last changes in Manitoba were made about two and a half weeks ago.
"That's why I would advocate for a little bit of a longer wait, maybe another week or so, just to see what happens from the last release of restrictions."
Hitting targets early
So far, 76.7 per cent of Manitobans aged 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 on Aug. 2 and Labour Day in September.
WATCH | Greater freedoms for fully vaccinated people an interim measure:
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.
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.
Pallister previously said that if immunization goals are met early, changes to health orders could come ahead of schedule.
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.