Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced April 9 that the provincial government and the City of Winnipeg are working together to enforce public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The enforcement for those who breach public health orders will include public education, written warnings and enforcement actions such as tickets or even arrest, said Pallister. Fines for disregarding public health orders will be $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses.
The province plans to adopt measures similar to those announced in Winnipeg with local police forces or RCMP in other municipalities and with RCMP and First Nation Safety Officers in First Nations.
“Everyone has a role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and the majority of Manitobans are adhering to good social distancing practices and changing how they operate at home, in their community and within their business,” said Pallister in a news release. “Unfortunately, there is still a need to have additional measures in place to address situations where people are ignoring the advice of our health experts. These changes will give enforcement officers more tools to help curb the spread of the virus.”
Thompson doesn’t currently have a provincial public health inspector in the city to respond to public health complaints. The person who holds that job is out of the country due to international travel restrictions and will have to isolate for 14 days when they return. Until that occurs, staff from the Brandon office are responding remotely to public health issues in Thompson. If there were a serious violation of a public health order that could not be dealt with by phone, staff from The Pas would travel to Thompson to address the issue, the province says.
Thompson RCMP Staff Sgt. Chris Hastie says the detachment has received multiple complaints of people gathering and drinking at the City Centre Mall (CCM) property in contravention of public health orders and the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control act since Manitoba reported its first positive test for COVID-19 on March 12.
“Extra police patrols of this frequented area are ongoing.,” Hastie says. “Additional police resources are exclusively designated to these areas outside of the MLCC, Walmart and Safeway and the CCM parking lot where there is currently a high propensity for people to loiter. The goal of these extra patrols will be to promote these social distancing measures, spread awareness to people about the Public Health Order and serve as a deterrent to groups who are congregating in these areas.”
The City of Thompson said in a Facebook post April 7 that it had paired its community safety officers with RCMP officers to increase downtown patrols and make homeless and at-risk people aware of the risk of COVID-19 while also continuing their regular duties of responding to intoxicated persons and disturbances downtown.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said he thought the move by the province and Winnipeg to ensure compliance with public health orders and recommendations was needed but that he hoped people violating those orders could be persuaded to comply, rather than punished for not doing so.
“I think it’s important to educate first, before handing out fines, especially when it come to our First Nation homeless population in Winnipeg and other municipalities,” he said.
Outside of Winnipeg, reports of non-compliance can be made to the Manitoba Government Inquiry (MGI) inquiry line at 204-945-3744 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.