The province's Chief Public Health Officer says Manitobans are at an important stage in the pandemic.

One year ago this week, Manitoba saw its first presumptive case of COVID-19.

"The pre-pandemic stage seems like a different lifetime ago to me, and to other people and I think that early on we went from hearing of a virus we weren't yet sure of its pandemic potential to one that quickly made its way around the world," Dr. Brent Roussin says.

The doctor says Manitobans need to stay aware of what the province faced the fall to prevent a repeat.

"There is absolutely reason to be optimistic right now but that does not mean we can let our guard down."

As restrictions loosen, over the weekend there were large volumes of people in retail locations and some Manitobans not wearing masks in public spaces.

"We are at, again, a really important stage in our battle here on the pandemic," Roussin says. "It is really important for us to articulate that we are not in a risk-free zone."

The doctor is pointing to pending vaccines and lower case numbers as signs of optimism but continues to ask Manitobans to continue following the fundamentals. The general population age for vaccine eligibility has lowered to people aged 80 or older or First Nation people aged 60 or older.