Manitoba unveils reopening plan to have 'One Great Summer'

Manitobans now have something to look forward to this summer as the province announced its reopening plan on Thursday.

The plan, known as “4-3-2-One Great Summer,” will see more openings and fewer restrictions starting on Canada Day, depending on immunization levels.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said this plan will help Manitoba move into a post-COVID world, but he noted this will not be the same as a pre-COVID world.

The plan focuses on four reopening categories, three summer holiday milestones, and two public health responsibilities according to Roussin.

The reopening categories are gathering and socializing, travel and tourism, shopping and services, and dining and entertainment.

The holiday milestones are Canada Day, the August long weekend, and Labour Day, while the two public health responsibilities are getting vaccinated and following public health orders.

Roussin said Manitobans getting vaccinated is paramount to ensure this reopening plan works and the province has set vaccine targets for the three holiday dates.

The province will move ahead with step one of reopening if 70 per cent of Manitobans 12 and older have received their first dose and 25 per cent have received their second dose by Canada Day.

Step two will start if 75 per cent of Manitobans receive their first dose and 50 per cent get their second dose by the August long weekend.

The third step will begin if 80 per cent of Manitobans receive their first dose and 75 per cent get their second dose by Labour Day.

If the targets are met by these dates, it could lead to businesses opening at 25 per cent capacity or greater by Canada Day, 50 per cent or more by the August long weekend, and limited restrictions by Labour Day.

Roussin said there is a reason why this plan doesn't include what specific businesses would be able to reopen as it gives the province some flexibility.

"The goal is that if we get these vaccine targets, we can start moving forward with these types of openings with these capacity limits, fairly broadly," said Roussin.

Premier Brian Pallister said he thinks this plan provides hope for everyone in the province.

"(It) is not that far away and I think that's going to be exciting to our small business community and we'll continue to offer as much support, both during this pandemic and in the recovery period, just as we did last year," said Pallister.

Pallister added while the targets are guidelines for the province, there is a chance to speed up the process if Manitoba hits the targets sooner. However, the opposite can happen as well.

"If we do worse, then we are not going to get our freedoms back as fast,” he said. “If we do better, then we might get them back faster. It is as simple as that."

Roussin said public health will continue to monitor the situation in the province as the summer progresses and make decisions that are best for Manitobans.

"The goal is to get to a post-pandemic Manitoba where we have public health recommendations and not restrictions,” said Roussin.

Both Roussin and Pallister said they hope the plan will be able to save the summer for Manitobans and start a path to a new normal.

The plan can be viewed below.