WINNIPEG — Manitobans will be able to return to restaurants, go to church and meet with larger groups as the province brings in the first step of its COVID-19 reopening plan ahead of schedule.
"This week Manitobans met and surpassed vaccination goals," Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday.
"Thank you, Manitobans, for doing that.”
More than 71 per cent of eligible residents have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and about 27 per cent have had a second shot. Pallister said that means some restrictions will be loosened Saturday — a week earlier than planned.
Restaurants and bars will be limited to 25 per cent capacity indoors and 50 per cent on patios.
Hair salons, gyms and sports will be allowed to open, but with capacity restrictions. Hair and nail salons, as well as barber shops, will also be available by appointment only.
Outdoor gatherings on private property will be capped at 10 people and groups in public areas will be limited to 25.
The number of worshippers at faith services will also be capped.
"Manitobans can now begin to enjoy more freedoms and fewer public health restrictions," Pallister said.
The provincial government's three-step approach calls for public health orders to be loosened if first- and second-dose vaccination rates are met by certain summer holidays.
The number of COVID-19 infections has been steadily falling in recent days following a delayed third wave that fuelled surging case numbers and put pressure on health care. The province brought in significant public health restrictions last month as many other parts of the country were starting to loosen them.
Pallister recognized that his Progressive Conservative government's plan is moving slower than in other areas. He said Manitoba has been in a race between vaccines and variants in recent months but, with more people getting a dose, vaccines are starting to win.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said people must remain cautious because COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.
"This pandemic is certainly not over."
The next step of Manitoba's plan, if vaccination rates are met, is to begin Aug. 2.
Pallister dangled the possibility that those who are fully vaccinated would be free of certain restrictions as the plan moves forward.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021.
The Canadian Press