A group of about 60 Manitobans have again rallied against provincial public health orders.
The Hugs over Masks group organized another rally in Steinbach to try and change the code red restrictions in the province.
Since November 12, the province has been under code red restrictions where non-essential items can’t be sold in stores, some businesses have been forced to close and gathering sizes have been capped.
In an email promoting the event to Global News, anonymous organizers said they have been frustrated by the sweeping restrictions impacting everyone in the province.
“Instead of affecting the small part of the population that needs protecting, Pallister has taken a shot gun approach and has affected everyone in the province negatively. And with the Winnipeg (sic) Jets now being allowed to play, but our children can’t, shows the total hypocrisy of this government.”
The protesters were seen outside the Steinbach city hall, some were social distancing while others were not and most attendees were not wearing masks.
“We need to get the government off our back with these regulations,” rally attendee Patrick Allard said. “We need to get back to normal, we need to understand that being within six feet of your neighbor isn’t dangerous. The mental health abuses are going to be felt for many many many years.”
Manitoba RCMP confirmed they are monitoring the protest and blocked off a few roads around the Steinbach city hall building.
Global News reporters on scene also saw enforcement officers walking around the area.
Former Steinbach resident, now living in Winnipeg, James Loewen came to the rally to see what the group was protesting against, while visiting his mother.
“The apartment building I’m going to, three people who have died for coronavirus, and three or four have been hospitalized because of it,” Loewen said. “And so when I talk to some of these people and tell them some of my friends have died from it, they say well it might have been cancer, it might have been something. They don’t believe anything, like the government is bad, science is bad.”
The president of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce, Wayne Patram, spoke out against the rally and released a statement saying it doesn’t represent the views of the Steinbach community.
“Having the freedom to protest does not therefore mean that we ought to do it. Perhaps our freedom ought to be used to unify our community, to support each other and to help those struggling during this time. Perhaps our freedom ought to be used to engage our leaders in dialogue on policy,” he said.
“When I consider Steinbach, I see our community and our leaders doing all these things. When I consider Steinbach, I see a community with incredible heart, character, and integrity – a community that I am proud to call ‘home.’”
Dr. Brent Roussin acknowledged their right to protest Friday, but advised protesters to properly distance and wear face coverings.
“It should be clear that these restrictions are very difficult for people but they work. We see the trajectory that we had at the beginning of November and where we would be for the begging of December, we implement these restrictions and we see those numbers coming down, we see now just in these past couple weeks being able to return to elective surgery.”
Roussin said even though the province is now in a position to loosen current restrictions, Manitoba is not out of the woods yet.
It was not the first time Steinbach has been the site of similar protests.
Two days after the province went into code red restrictions, a group of nearly 200 people protested the restrictions in Steinbach.
The event saw many people not socially distancing or wearing masks.
The Church of God Restoration, south of Steinbach, has already been fined for breaking the rules around religious services — both in person and drive-in.
Minister Tobias Tiessen has been handed at least two $1,300 fines as well.
Tiessen was also seen speaking at Saturday’s rally outside city hall.
-With files from Malika Karim and Marek Tkach