‘A breath of fresh air’: Manitoba residents celebrate as outdoor gathering ban comes to an end

Click to play video: '3-week-long outdoor gathering ban in Manitoba comes to an end'
3-week-long outdoor gathering ban in Manitoba comes to an end
Manitobans hit parks and golf courses in full force with family and friends over the weekend, following a three-week-long outdoor gathering ban. Global's Marek Tkach went out to find out how people were taking advantage of the rule change – Jun 13, 2021

This past weekend marked the first in a long time during which Manitobans could legally gather outdoors with family and friends from different homes.

Many took advantage of the newly loosened restrictions to head out for a bike ride, take a stroll through the park, or even just soak up some sun.

Anna D’Eon, who was outside enjoying the weather, couldn’t remember the last time she was able to spend in-person quality time with her family.

“A couple of months ago? I can’t even recall. It’s been so long and it feels great,” she said.

Anna D’Eon holds her grandson Henry for the first time in months. Manitoba’s previous public health orders had restricted outdoor family gatherings. Marek Tkach / Global News

Thanks to the latest adjustment of restrictions, which increase the outdoor gathering limit to five from zero, D’Eon was able to hold her grandson for the first time in months Saturday afternoon.

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“It just changes life, it brings life back,” she said with a smile.

“I felt trapped. I was getting really down in the dumps with the fact I couldn’t see my family.”

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For friends who haven’t been able to get together in person for a long time, the weekend was much appreciated.

“It’s a relief if anything,” said John Fair, who was enjoying the day at Kildonan Park, tossing around a football with his friends.

“I mean, we’ve all been in lockdown for so many months and unfortunately, people aren’t able to get out as often as they’d love to. Most definitely, it’s a breath of fresh air,” he continued.

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Restrictions may have eased, but there are still rules in place.

Group sizes at Kildonan Park mostly stayed under the new limit of five over the weekend. To ensure Winnipeggers were following the rules, community service ambassadors could be seen roaming city parks in considerable numbers.

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Their job is to educate park-goers on current gathering and physical distancing requirements.

At the Kildonan Park golf course, the tee sheet was full and the course was packed with golfers from different households for the first time in over three weeks.

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“I haven’t been out once this year with my buddies so it’s definitely a nice change,” said Duncan Thompson, prior to teeing off for an afternoon round of golf with four friends. “It’s nice to get out with some friends and enjoy the outdoors, especially on a day like this,”

“I’m not much of a golfer, but it’s nice to actually be able to see my friends a little bit instead of sitting at home working,” said Chris Alward, a member of Thompson’s group.

According to the provincial government’s reopening plan, additional freedoms for Manitobans could be on the way by July 1 if a 70 per cent vaccination threshold is met.

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