Friends, food and fun: Winnipeggers looking forward to weekend of looser restrictions

Ivo Maury is nervously excited about Manitoba loosening pandemic restrictions this weekend.

The sous chef at Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria in the Exchange District has been frantically prepping for what he hopes will be a crush of customers coming back beginning on Saturday.

“Just a lot of relief. It’s been such a long year,” he said.

Staff at the restaurant have been working for days getting the restaurant and patio back into shape to welcome customers, after sitting largely empty for three months. 

Maury says people have called looking to make reservations. 

“A lot of people are really excited to go out again and have a beer. Everybody’s been locked indoors for the past three months now I think, ever since the third shutdown and it just hasn’t got any better. So it’s just going to be non-stop.”

On Friday, deputy chief provincial public health officer Jazz Atwal announced the province would move out of code red for the first time in seven months.

Beginning on Saturday, restaurants and bars can open again for dining inside at 25 per cent capacity, and 50 per cent outside. Salons and gyms can also reopen. 

Restrictions on outdoor gathering sizes on private property double to 10 people, and the outdoor gathering size in public spaces increases to 25.

For Rebecca Chaub, the lifting of restrictions means she can go out with a friend, sit down and have a face-to-face conversation.

“Since the restaurants are open I can go sit down, have a face-to-face conversation with the person I’m hanging out with and instead of walking around carrying our drinks and having a hard time finding a place to even chill,” she said.

She hopes to find a job this summer before going back to finish her degree.

Kaylene Michell plans to get outside on her bike and reconnect with family.

“Probably taking my grandpa out for more outings now that it feels more safe with the restrictions being lifted,” she said.

Nash Vatu says he and his family are excited about the prospects for summer. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

Nash Vatu looks forward to a summer of barbecues and camping.

“I’m so excited to have a barbecue and five friends coming over,” he said. 

“Summer’s looking bright and better. I’m looking forward to going camping in the summer, August long [weekend] is already booked. Family is so excited, I can’t wait.”

Not everyone plans to immediately take advantage of the looser restrictions. Cheryl Kives said she was invited to a jam this weekend, but felt it was too soon.

“It has 25 people outside and I’m a little bit scared to do that, because I think it’s too early. So I’m not going to go. It’s a little bit disappointing but I just feel that it’s too early, still,” she said.

This summer, Kives plans to head to the cottage, just as she always does.

Tiana Mojelsky says she won’t be completely comfortable with gatherings until vaccination rates rise and case numbers drop. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

Tiana Mojelsky plans to see a couple friends and family this summer, but she will wait until COVID-19 case numbers fall more before attending any large gatherings.

“I just want to wait until more people get fully vaccinated before I’m more comfortable,” she said.

Saturday’s reopening was tied to the provincial government’s goal of having at least 70 per cent of people vaccinated with at least one dose, and 25 per cent with two doses, by July 1. After the province reached that goal early, its next goal is to have 75 per cent with one dose and 50 per cent with two doses by Terry Fox Day, Aug. 2.

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