Movie showings, indoor dining and more customers in stores: Stage 2 of Alberta's reopening plan arrives

Many of the restrictions that have been in place in Alberta for months have been eased as the province has entered Stage 2 of its reopening plan.

Albertans may now check out a blockbuster film in cinemas with just a third of the seats made available to guests.

Larry Jones, the general manager at Cineplex Seton, says he and his crew have been busy getting things prepared for movie-goers and staff back up to speed.

“It’s been like Christmas morning today but before that it’s been a mad rush," explained Jones. "Scary movies are scarier, funny movies are funnier and you’re not going to be able to see a 40 foot dinosaur at home on your screen."

All shows are spaced 20 minutes apart to allow staff time to properly clean and ensure there’s limited crossover between guests in the lobby area.

Places of worship, arenas, theatres, museums, art galleries and libraries are all allowed to reopen with one-third occupancy.

Shops and stores may increase capacity to one-third of the operating capacity, and personal wellness services can now accept walk-in appointments.

Events are also getting a boost; weddings, funerals and outdoor social gatherings may include up to 20 guests with physical distancing required.

An outdoor concert or festival can have a crowd limit of 150 people and a fixed seating facility such as a grandstand can open with one-third capacity.

Grey Eagle Drive-In announced Thursday they’ll be offering live concerts starting June 16.

The venue setup will allow for a parking spot between every vehicle which will become the guests place to set up lawn chairs or stand for the live music and events.

David Howard, the president of Events Group, says they are thrilled to offer these events, adding that $350 million has been lost in the live event industry in Canada due to the pandemic.

"There is sound, light, techs the whole gambit, bands themselves that have been sitting on the sidelines for a year and a half so, they’ve been struggling so, this is great push for them and all event companies and everybody that supports that service this is certainly a bright day."

Indoor social gatherings are still not permitted in Stage 2.

Restaurant-goers will have the option of being served on a patio or indoor dining room in parties of up to six people. Stage 2 no longer requires the diners to be from the same household or cohort.

Gyms and fitness studios may open for solo or drop-in activities with physical distancing and group classes can resume with three metre spacing.

However, not every gym or fitness boutique owner is ready to open.

MovementU says it's holding off opening it's studio until it's guaranteed they won't be shut down again.

"We’ve seen it before where we’ve had to pivot and we get shut down again," said lead instructor Reese Risdon. "Even if Stampede does happen, and there’s a reversal with numbers and indoor activities, we will still be able to offer the services people are used to outside.”

The fitness studio has been offering outdoor classes at the Ramsay Community Association outdoor rink and says restrictions under Stage 2 would still not allow them to open to more clients than what they are already offering outdoors.

"Three meter distancing means we would have very, very small classes and, just the way the studios are set up, there are lots of funnels that happen so we just really really like how the outdoor space is set up."

All restrictions are lifted for indoor and outdoor sports for all ages. Day camps, overnight camps and play centres, may also resume operations.

Students may attend on-campus instruction at post-secondary settings as institutions are now permitted to resume in-person learning.

Working from home is no longer an order, but the province still recommends it.

The rules for mask-wearing and physical spacing remain unchanged.

Stages of the province's 'Open for Summer' reopening plan are spaced out by a minimum of two weeks, but Alberta is currently not in a position to advance to Stage 3 by June 24 as the benchmark of 70 per cent of eligible Albertans receiving the initial dose of the COVID-19 has yet to be met.