Manitobans will be able to gather in large numbers and businesses in the province serve more customers when a new set of public health orders comes into effect July 17.
“All Manitobans will be able to enjoy more freedoms starting then," said Premier Brian Pallister July 14 while announcing the public health order changes with chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin.
Indoor gatherings at home will now be allowed, with a maximum of five guests along with the household members, while indoor gatherings in public places and outdoor gatherings on private property increase to 25 people at most. Outdoor gatherings in public places can have a maximum of 150 attendees.
Store capacity will be expanded to 50 per cent or 500 people, whichever is lower, while restaurants can also be 50 per cent full, though diners seated indoors must still be from the same household or fully vaccinated, with the exception of those under 12. Restaurants may stay open until midnight and customers are no longer required to order food when ordering alcohol. Video lottery terminals can operate as long as there is two metres of space between people and only household members or fully vaccinated people are seated together. People seated at patio tables do not have to be from the same household or vaccinated, though the maximum number of people per table remains at eight. Personal services businesses can operate at 50 per cent capacity with appointments no longer required.
Gatherings such as weddings and funerals may have up to 150 participants outdoors or 25 indoors. Faith-based gatherings can have 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 150 people indoors or outdoors. Libraries can also open at 50 per cent capacity or 150 people, whichever is lower.
Gyms and fitness centres can operate at up to 50 per cent capacity, as long as there is three metres of distances between patrons. Masks are still required. Indoor sporting facilities can host up to 25 people and outdoor sports can have up to 50, excluding spectators, though tournaments are still prohibited in both cases. Day camps can have up to 25 participants.
Some facilities are only open to fully vaccinated people and children under 12 accompanied by vaccinated household members, including movie theatres, bingo halls, VLT lounges and casinos, and museums and art galleries, which may operate at 50 per cent capacity.
Large-scale outdoor professional sports or performing arts events may operate at up to 100 per cent capacity after developing an approved event plan with public health.
“Public health has approved the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football game on Aug 5 to take place with 100 per cent capacity to fully vaccinated fans,” said Roussin, noting that masks will not be mandated at the game. “We feel that it’s an appropriate risk for most people.”
The orders are due to remain in place for three weeks, until Aug. 7.
Roussin said he is hopeful that Manitobans will achieve the Labour Day vaccination target of 80 per cent of Manitobans with first doses and 75 per cent with both doses ahead of schedule.
In order to do so, said the premier, about 24,000 more first doses and 87,000 more second doses need to be administered.
“We are close to achieving our vaccination milestones earlier than we initially targeted,” he said. “I’m confident we can do this.”
Currently, about 77 per cent of Manitobans over age 12 are partially vaccinated and 58 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Pallister said although restrictions are easing, it’s not time to celebrate victory yet.
“This is a tough adversary and we need to be diligent,” said the premier.