With stiff winds, snow, and freezing rain, the 'hug rug' at Winnipeg airport felt even warmer.

The Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport brought out the blue circular 'hug rug' from storage at 11:00 a.m. on Friday. Within minutes it was put to use as people embraced their loved ones coming in from a flight.

"It's pretty much been two years to the date, it's been 736 days the 'hug rug' has been away in storage," says Nick Hays, the Winnipeg Airport Authority President and CEO. "This is a really special day."

Right after the pandemic shut down Winnipeg in March of 2020, the rug was put into storage to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The airport staff was thrilled to lay it out once more. 

"I don't know of any other airports that have anything like that. I think over the years it's become the sort of iconic symbol for the community here and something people really care about."

While some people simply walked off the escalator to collect their bags, other families and friends took advantage of the rug's suggestion and embraced. 

"Seeing some of the reactions of some of the passengers coming through here makes it a really special thing."

The 'hug rug' was initially introduced at the airport in 2013.