The upcoming second phase of Manitoba's summer reopening plan is expected to further expand indoor and outdoor gatherings and pave the way for more businesses to reopen.

The upcoming second phase of Manitoba's summer reopening plan is expected to further expand indoor and outdoor gatherings and pave the way for more businesses to reopen.

The provincial government's 4-3-2-One Great Summer Reopening Path plan, announced June 10, promised retail businesses would be able to open at half-capacity by Aug. 2. With Manitoba's vaccination targets achieved four weeks early, that will happen sooner. Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday new public-health orders will be announced next week, but no other details were released.

When the reopening began on June 26, restrictions on indoor gatherings largely remained in place, with cautious adjustments. Casinos, museums, galleries and movie theatres were ordered to remain closed. Although local museums haven't been given advance notice of upcoming changes, they are monitoring the situation.

Preparations are underway so the Manitoba Museum will be ready to reopen in August if public-health orders allow, said CEO Dorota Blumczynska. Blumczynska is also part of the Protect Manitoba campaign advisory committee that is advising the government on its reopening strategy. The committee will meet Thursday to discuss the next phase of reopening, and Blumczynska said she, along with the rest of Manitobans, is anxiously awaiting more details.

"Ourselves at the Manitoba Museum (and) I believe many of our partners in the arts and culture sector are beginning preparations for an early August reopening," she said, adding that will only happen if public-health orders allow.

"We're pre-emptively beginning to put those things in place for that moment, whenever it arrives."

More than half of the museum's galleries have been transformed, and exhibits added to reflect residential-school history and Indigenous contributions to Manitoba, Blumczynska said.

Visitors will "not just be mesmerized, but I think it will be an opportunity for them to further open their heart and their mind to some of the experiences that maybe not all of us have been well aware of, but that we need to be aware of so we can build a stronger community," she said.

Under the first phase of the reopening plan, retail store capacity was set at 25 per cent. Restaurants were allowed to reopen at 25 per cent capacity indoors and 50 per cent capacity outdoors, leading Manitobans to flock to patios. Recreational activities, including day camps and indoor sports, were allowed to resume at limited capacity. Gyms reopened at 25 per cent capacity.

It's likely the second phase will focus on further expanding outdoor gatherings and recreational activities. Manitoba's chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has said those were prioritized over the reopening of businesses such as movie theatres and galleries because of the increased risk of indoor transmission of the virus.

The new rules will likely be announced late next week.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.