Dr. Brent Roussin is announcing a "slight opening in outdoor settings" in Manitoba.

Small outdoor gatherings will be permitted starting this weekend. Up to five visitors outside can gather on both public and private property, starting Saturday.

"We are not in a position to open everything at once certainly, but we are in a position to slowly ease, very minimally, some reactions," Roussin says in a Wednesday press conference. 

Outdoor public gatherings can have up to five people from any household. This includes outdoor activities such as golfing, but not organized sports such as soccer teams. Patios remain closed.

If on private property, five people from no more than two other households can gather. This includes campground spaces.

"In a recent feedback survey Manitobans were asked what first steps should be taken to ease public health restrictions while balancing the needs of the health-care system. The survey indicated that 93 per cent of respondents said the ability to gather with friends and family outdoors on private property would improve their quality of life significantly," the province says in a statement.

Roussin is asking Manitobans to follow the spirit of the orders and stick to the fundamentals.

"The orders don't require a designed group of people, but again our strong messaging is to limit the number of contacts you have outside your household."

He says he is not concerned about Father's Day gatherings spreading COVID-19, as the province will continue to be under strict health orders. 

Indoor gatherings continue to not be allowed.


Most health orders extending

All other orders in effect from the previous round of health orders will be extended, including the heat safety amendments, until June 26. There are no changes to remote learning. Winnipeg, Brandon and the Red River Valley and Garden Valley school divisions will stay online for the rest of the year, and Morden and Dauphin will remain remote until June 21.

"These last many months have been tough, but these last couple of weeks where we haven't been able to gather with anyone outside of our household has been especially tough on Manitobans," Roussin says.

He says while these orders are being loosened slightly, there is still the risk of transmission. Manitoba's hospitals continue to be overfilled, with dozens of locals being sent out of the province for COVID-19 care. Hundreds more are waiting for health care after the pausing of some services.

Roussin says the loosened travel orders for fully vaccinated Manitobans will go into effect this weekend.

The current orders are expiring at midnight on Saturday. 


Future reopenings

Manitoba is making its next steps to reopen the province, including a reopening plan set to be shared Thursday.

"We have a plan moving forward that is going to paint a picture for Manitobans," Roussin says about reopenings. 

Other measures previously announced include fully-vaccinated people receiving additional privileges.  

"We hope this is a temporary measure, of course, as we get to the point where everybody is vaccinated and we don't need to worry so much about this," Premier Brian Pallister said on Tuesday while announcing vaccination cards

On Wednesday, the province hit a vaccination milestone as 70 per cent of all adults have received their first COVID-19 vaccine. On the same day, Pallister announced a vaccination lottery for vaccinated Manitobans, set to give away close to $2 million in cash and scholarship prizes.