People in Saskatchewan can now belt out Don't Stop Believin' at their local karaoke bar or have as big a wedding as they want now that restrictions are now lifted.
The Saskatchewan government lifted all restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic on July 11. That means Zubazz Read can host a full karaoke night for the first time in 16 months.
"Even before the pandemic, it was a good way to socialize, but also I find it's like a form of therapy for people. A little bit of music, a little bit of social music, a little bit of healing, a little bit of socializing and a lot of fun goes a long way," said Read, the owner of Zubazz Entertainment.
He hosts karaoke nights at different Regina places, including O'Hanlon's Pub and the Revival Room. His first one in months is Monday at O'Hanlon's.
Read said he's been living on the government wage for a year and a half and it's not enough. He said he's excited to bring people back together again. Read is still taking precautions though, as COVID-19 is still around.
"I've taken the precaution of getting disposable microphone covers for the microphones and of course will have hand sanitizer there too. But I would like to encourage the crowd not to hold the mic in their hand and just let it be in the microphone stand as they're singing," Read said.
People are still welcome to wear masks if they choose and Read said he understands if people still want to stay home. However, Read said his regulars are excited to be back.
Karaoke isn't the only event back after being on pause. Weddings have had to be scaled down or pushed back over the course of the past year, as people have dealt with ever changing regulations. But with no restrictions, weddings are back in full force.
We're getting triple the inquiries and triple the bookings that we normally would. - Angela Hodel, wedding planner
"It's absolutely insane. That's the only way to describe it. I think all wedding industry vendors are kind of feeling the same way just because everybody was holding off for so long in order to have their weddings or their events like they originally had envisioned," said Angela Hodel, owner of Imagine Events.
"We're getting triple the inquiries and triple the bookings that we normally would," she said.
Hodel said that in 2020, the wedding industry was severely impacted as people watched events postpone and cancel throughout the summer. Throughout the pandemic, Hodel focused on smaller or online events as people dealt with ever-changing restrictions.
Now, people are being married on every day of the week. If anyone is planning a summer event, Hodel suggests getting the ball rolling as early as possible, as venues and vendors are limited.
"When they finally announced that July 11 was the day that things are going to be opening up again, it was almost like it was a complete 180, because we had convinced ourselves that we were going to have a small wedding," Kaity Verrett said.
Verrett is a bride to be, with her wedding only 12 days away on July 24. Verrett and her fiance have been busy calling people and inviting them now that there aren't any capacity limits.
Verrett said planning during the pandemic has been a roller-coaster of emotions.
Now the couple is able to have their full guest list, a large reception with a Philipino-Canadian buffet, and a midnight lunch. The couple is leaving it up to individuals if they'd like to wear masks.
"Of course myself and my fiancé won't be wearing them because that was the biggest thing is we weren't really wanting to wear them on our big day. But we are so open if guests are wanting to," she said. "We're all for whatever the guests are feeling comfortable with."