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No dancing allowed: Groom-to-be laments latest Manitoba restrictions

A Manitoba couple with their wedding coming up this weekend are feeling shades of the movie Footloose thanks to the province’s latest changes to COVID-19 restrictions.

Grant Hamilton, the groom, took to social media Tuesday to lament the fact that although the new regulations mean his 35-person wedding could have been boosted to 1,500 attendees, he won’t get to have a first dance with his new bride, Amy.

No one, in fact, will be able to dance at the event — even though the couple have done everything they can to make the wedding COVID-19-safe, including all attendees being fully vaccinated, and planning the ‘dance floor’ in an outdoor, rural venue.

“The change has really thrown us for a bit of a loop,” Hamilton told 680 CJOB, “because they’ve forbidden us from dancing.

“It’s kind of an unusual situation the province has put us in with the latest change in restrictions.”

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According to the new restrictions, when it comes to outdoor gatherings, “dance floors will remain closed and activities that encourage close gathering and mingling are not recommended.”

Hamilton said the previous rule was that dancing was forbidden specifically at licensed venues — an easy fix for his wedding, as the outdoor dance floor was planned to be separate from the venue where the dinner — and bar — would be located.

“It was the safest possible dance floor I think, outdoors under the stars where people can enjoy a dance and a reception,” he said.

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“Unfortunately, now it’s a little tweak in the rules. I don’t blame anyone for it — I think (the province is) just trying to help the retail sector, helping the restaurant sector … all these businesses that have been really, really badly hurt by the pandemic, and for them, lifting these restrictions is what they need.”

Read more: Manitoba lifts mask mandate for indoor public places starting Saturday

While a small, rural wedding is unlikely to attract the attention of provincial enforcement officers, Hamilton said he doesn’t want to flout the rules for fear of the venue getting punished for it.

“It’s up to the venue to police this, and I think their liquor licence could be at risk, so that’s not something we want to do to them.

“They’ve been fantastic to work with the whole time. I think it’s just a bit of an oversight in the rules.”

On Tuesday, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said the changes in restrictions — which also continue to limit capacity at popular entertainment sites like movie theatres, museums and the like — are all safety-based.

“We’re moving from public health restrictions to recommendations, but we know that COVID is still with us,” said Roussin.

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“We still know those places, crowded spaces, prolonged contact … increase the risk of transmission not only COVID, but the other respiratory viruses that are likely to return.”

At the same news conference, Premier Brian Pallister said the most recent changes are based on scientific recommendations.

“They’ve always been designed, throughout this miserable pandemic, with the best advice of our public health leaders, and their recommendations have been followed.”

For Hamilton, though, dance or no dance, Saturday is going to be a celebration.

“We’re in love, we’re going to get married and that’s what really matters.”

Click to play video: 'Massive loosening of Manitoba health orders' Massive loosening of Manitoba health orders
Massive loosening of Manitoba health orders – Aug 3, 2021
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