The Manitoba government is giving municipal bylaw officers the power to enforce public health orders in an effort to curb rising COVID-19 case numbers in Winnipeg and across the province.
Under new rules which go into effect immediately, bylaw officers will be able to issue tickets for violations of public health emergency orders.
“Despite extensive public health education campaigns, compliance with public health orders continues to be an issue,” said Justice Minister, Cliff Cullen.
“Empowering additional enforcement personnel will help address the ongoing concerns about non-compliance as we reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
The move comes days after the province increased fines for people and businesses who ignore public health orders.
Under the changes which went into effect Wednesday, the fine for individuals who break self-isolation orders or violate rules such as a cap on public gatherings has jumped to $1,296 from $486.
For businesses that exceed capacity limits, fail to have proper physical distancing in place or contravene other rules, the penalty has risen to $5,000 from $2,542.
Cullen said municipal bylaw officers can now issue tickets for the violation of public health emergency orders and emergency health hazard orders including:
- orders limiting the size of gatherings;
- orders imposing health protection measures on business (e.g. social distancing, capacity limits, patrons to remain seated at bars, etc.);
- orders requiring people with a positive COVID-19 test, or those advised they are a close contact, to self-isolate;
- orders requiring people travelling into Manitoba to self-isolate according to public health; and
- orders prohibiting travel to northern Manitoba.
The RCMP and other police agencies, the Health Protection Unit, Manitoba Conservation and Climate, Workplace Safety and Health, and the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority all also have the power to issue fines.
Premier Brian Pallister said as of Wednesday the province had issued 134 fines since the pandemic began. It’s unclear how many individuals have been fined, as the province only releases information about businesses that are penalized.
Manitoba marked the province’s deadliest day of the pandemic with four COVID-19-related deaths and 147 new cases reported Thursday.
The latest infections bring the total number of cases reported in Manitoba to 3,773. Forty-seven Manitobans have died in connection with the virus since March.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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.
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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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