Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman reiterated his support for harsher penalties for COVID-19 scofflaws at a press conference Friday.
Bowman, who has called for stricter fines for people willfully violating provincial pandemic restrictions, said he wants to encourage Winnipeggers to stay home above and beyond what the province has mandated.
“Please stay home as much as possible,” the mayor said.
“This is critically important for those who can’t get the health-care treatments they need, because our provincial health-care system doesn’t have the possibility right now.
“Only go out for essentials, notwithstanding what the provincial orders allow you to do.”
Bowman is calling for a “super fine” of $100,000 for those who organize public events for the purposes of violating public health orders. He said such a hefty sum will ensure there’s accountability for those deliberately thumb their noses at guidelines.
“Don’t go to events like this that are intended to violate the province’s health orders,” he said. “There are consequences.
“It should be significant and people should be dissuaded from going to events like this — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because there could be more significant financial consequences.
“You’re not only putting your own health at risk, but you’re also showing a tremendous amount of disrespect for Winnipeggers and Manitobans who are following the rules … When they see these events happening, it definitely rattles their sensitivities and it frustrates them — and I’m right there with them.”
Winnipeg police confirmed Friday that several arrest warrants have been issued for anti-mask rally organizers, including Ontario’s Chris “Sky” Saccoccia.
Saccoccia was behind a recent rally in Winnipeg and has been organizing numerous rallies across the country, against COVID-19-related public health orders banning large gatherings.
In a short message posted on social media Friday, Saccoccia said he would not be setting foot in Manitoba.