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Winnipeg mayor wants public aware of what COVID-19 restrictions city can enforce

Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman speaks to media after the reading of the throne speech at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on November 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods.
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman speaks to media after the reading of the throne speech at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on November 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Winnipeg’s mayor wants to clarify the roles and responsibilities of city workers in enforcing COVID-19 restrictions.

City bylaw officers enforce city bylaws in city parks while “community ambassadors” educate people in parks about physical distancing rules, Mayor Brian Bowman said at a Wednesday morning press conference.

“For all other spaces… the provincial government is responsible for the provincial government’s public health orders,” Bowman said.

Meanwhile, provincial public health inspectors appear to be only enforcing COVID-19 restrictions at businesses, rather than the province’s communities at large, Bowman said.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are currently banned under a provincial public health order.

READ MORE: Enforcement coming soon for Manitobans violating coronavirus measures

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When asked whether he made those comments as a dig at the province’s enforcement measures, Bowman did not directly answer.

“If the public is expecting that provincial public health inspectors are actively monitoring the broader community and the streets, I think its important to manage those expectations based on what… we understand and the evidence that we’ve seen, we don’t believe that’s occurring,” Bowman said. “It’s falling on the shoulders of law enforcement officials.”

“We have a chief of police and members of the Winnipeg Police Service who do difficult and dangerous work and I’ll leave their operational decisions for them to speak to,” Bowman said.

READ MORE: Winnipeg businesses looking for more clarity on COVID-19 rules, enforcement

COVID-19 public health order enforcement is not a city police issue, public information officer Const. Rob Carver said in an email to Global News.

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“Provincial health is responsible for enforcing those measures,” Carver wrote.

The RCMP, which polices most communities in the province without local law enforcement, is enforcing COVID-19 public health orders. 

Manitoba businesses looking for more clarity on COVID-19 rules, enforcement
Manitoba businesses looking for more clarity on COVID-19 rules, enforcement

Premier Brian Pallister was asked by reporters whether the province plans to widen enforcement measures at a Wednesday morning press conference.

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Those details will have to wait until Thursday, he said, but noted the province has taken more steps in enforcement.

READ MORE: Fines, snitch lines: Crackdown on coronavirus rule breakers could have consequences

“It’s important for the very few who would put others at risk to know that there [are] stepped-up enforcement measures that are going to impact them and there are fines that are going to be levied if they disrespect the safety requirements,” Pallister said.

“It’s very difficult, but it is also very important to make sure we’re enforcing in a province as big and broad and beautiful as ours.”

The province previously said it would start to actively enforce and possibly fine people who don’t comply with public health orders.

“It is on the radar to see if there are necessary deterrents that need be pursued because of this. Sadly, that’s necessary given the reality that some are disrespecting the rest of us,” Pallister said in early April.

READ MORE: Canadians have racked up $5.8M in coronavirus fines, report says

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.