‘We deserve it’: Manitoba moviegoer, banquet manager happy to see COVID-19 restrictions ease

Jeff Scharer is looking forward to finally catching a movie at a theatre while he’s on holidays from work next week. 

For him, it’s a step toward gaining back some of the normalcy that’s been lost due to COVID-19. 

“We can start, you know, doing stuff like we used to do.… For a lot of us, I think it’s about time,” said Scharer, who lives in Lockport, just north of Winnipeg. “We deserve it.” 

New provincial public health orders came into effect in Manitoba on Saturday. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the new rules Wednesday, saying while “this virus is not done with us … we’re definitely in a position to be able to loosen the restrictions.”

Manitobans can now have up to five visitors inside their home and up to 25 people can gather inside in public spaces. Other changes include increases in outdoor gathering sizes, allowing restaurants to stay open later, and an increase in maximum capacity to 50 per cent for most businesses.

The province also announced those who are fully vaccinated with two doses of a COVID-19 will get some other privileges, such as being allowed to go to movie theatres, museums and being able to get a ticket for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ home opener next month.

“It’s nice to actually have some flexibility with what you want to do… versus ‘going home or going home,'” said Scharer.

For him, watching movies at home just hasn’t been the same. 

“I’ve been waiting for so long to go see a movie, ’cause I like going to the movies.”

Jeff Scharer is looking forward to going to a movie theatre next week, with pandemic restrictions now relaxed in Manitoba. (Submitted by Jeff Scharer)

Manitoba’s public health restrictions are easing as the number of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 increases and the number of new cases is starting to drop.

The province reported 62 new infections on Saturday. Manitoba’s seven-day new case average is 45, down from just under 49 on Friday.

The province’s online vaccine dashboard said as of Saturday, 77.4 per cent of the population age 12 and up have had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 61.1 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

The province had initially set a target of having at least 75 per cent vaccinated with a first dose and 50 per cent fully vaccinated by Aug. 2, saying if that happened, the second of three stages of reopening could begin. Manitoba reached those vaccination targets almost a month early, allowing the second stage to begin ahead of schedule.

‘Phone has been exploding’: banquet manager

The latest changes in public health restrictions also mean those getting married can now celebrate their big day with more people. 

Starting Saturday, outdoor weddings can have up to 150 people, in addition to photographers and officiants. The province says indoor weddings can have up to 25 people, in addition to photographers and officiants.

“It’s definitely been pretty busy since about, like, 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday,”  said Alyssa Peterson, the banquet manager at Pineridge Hollow, a restaurant and event centre just northeast of Winnipeg.

“My phone has been exploding, emails coming through like crazy,” she told guest host Marjorie Dowhos in an interview with CBC Radio’s Up to Speed on Friday. 

Peterson said one couple got the news in time to nearly triple their guest list ahead of their wedding this weekend. 

“They were super excited.”

She said while it’s been busy trying to make sure they have enough staff, food and supplies for increased guest lists, she welcomes the change. 

“I’m happy to get closer to what my normal is,” she said. “I love the fast pace. I love doing the events so I’m just happy to be able to be doing what I love again.” 

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