Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says fines will be sent by mail to people who took part in what he describes as the “stupidity” of an anti-mask rally on the weekend.
Pallister says more details are to come after well over 100 people attended the protest in Steinbach against restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
But he hints tickets could be based on the licence plates of vehicles seen at the rally southeast of Winnipeg on Saturday.
“On the surface of it, when you see that many people out doing something wrong, you want to see the tickets issued there and then,” he said at a Monday press conference announcing supports for businesses forced to close during the pandemic.
“It was a pretty dangerous situation and unfortunately there were threats and some things that people said if they thought about it and prayed on it, they would be very regretful.”
The Hugs over Masks group organized the Steinbach event to protest the provincial government’s public health orders meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This Thursday, the entire province went into level red under Manitoba’s pandemic rating system.
All gatherings are capped at five people among other significant measures.
A Global News reporter at the event saw children and adults at the rally, the majority of whom didn’t wear masks or follow physical distancing protocols. Others held signs touting conspiracy theories.
Over the weekend a provincial spokesperson confirmed fines were doled out for contravening public health orders, but couldn’t say the number of tickets given.
The rally was held as Steinbach’s hospital was near capacity and Manitoba’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.
On Sunday, Manitoba’s justice minister condemned the actions of the demonstrators calling actions at the event “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong.”
“The language and vitriol experienced by our enforcement personnel at (Saturday’s) event is absolutely unacceptable. These individuals are working to keep all Manitobans healthy and safe so we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives,” Cliff Cullen said in the statement.
“Manitobans have been warned and, if they choose to participate in events that openly disregard public health orders, they can expect that enforcement action will be taken.”
Provincial fines for individuals breaking COVID-19 health orders are set at $1,296, while fines for businesses are up to $5,000.
On Monday Manitoba health officials announced 392 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths.
The latest cases bring the province’s total number of cases reported since March to 11,339. The province’s death toll is now at 172.
–With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Sam Thompson, Amber McGuckin, and Erik Pindera
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