Lethbridge enters Stage 2 of Alberta's "Open for Summer" plan
Thursday marked Alberta entering Stage 2 of its 'Open for Summer' plan, and no one was happier about that than movie fans.
This is the second of three stages for reopening with the government planning to lift almost all restrictions in the third phase.
While the province may not be there yet, Albertans can now enjoy more freedoms and liberties.
Those include, for the first time in nearly seven months, enjoying a night out at the movies.
Debra Binning, who owns and runs The Movie Mill with her husband Leonard, said they couldn’t be happier.
"We’re open, we’re moving forward and we’re excited to invite everyone back in," she told CTV.
Binning went on to say that if it wasn't for the community, they may not have been able to switch the projectors back on again.
"If everyone hadn't bought popcorn during the pandemic, we wouldn't be here," she said.
"We're here because everybody supported us and now we're happy to roll out the red carpet, so to speak, for them."
Gyms reopened Thursday, too.
STILL FACE RESTRICTIONS
While theatres may be open again, they still face restrictions.
They can only be filled to 30 per cent capacity and masking is still required.
The Movie Mill has been showing drive-in films on weekends for the past few weeks and will continue to do so for the remainder of the summer.
While they have been open again for a couple weeks, restaurants also got a big boost Thursday.
Indoor dining is once again allowed in the province after stage one restrictions limited restaurants to outdoor dining only.
While patio dining provides some income, places like Honkers Pub & Eatery rely heavily on indoor dining and glad it’s allowed once again.
“We actually get to re-open our dine in, we get to have six people at a table, so we get to serve people," said Honkers owner, Vicky Vanden Hoek.
"I've never wanted to serve people more in my life!"
Recreation facilities, such as the O2 Training Centre, are now also able to operate at 30 per cent capacity.
This comes after being limited to one-on-one appointments or being closed completely over the course of the pandemic.
Justin Tavernini is O2's owner and head trainer and is excited to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
"You have no idea how good it feels to be back in this environment, to have people back in my facility, and having my students come back," he said with a smile.
"It brings tears to my eyes. That's how good it feels."
Many restrictions may still be in place, but the new stage or reopening is providing Albertans with hope.
Now with Stage 2 reopening under way, Albertans will be eagerly awaiting Stage 3 and hopefully the end of COVID-19 restrictions.
For more information on what's available through Phase 2, visit the Province of Alberta's website.
With files by Quinn Keenan