A number of government officials, including police, bylaw enforcement and park patrol officers, now have the authority to enforce public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced Thursday.
In total, 3,000 municipal and provincial officials will be able to enforce the rules, he said.
This is necessary because of “the sad few who refuse to be responsible enough to do the right thing,” Pallister said at a news conference.
The added enforcement and authority given to government officials is possible under the Public Health Act.
The officials include safety and health officers, inspectors, public health officers, park patrol officers, public health officers within Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development, including food safety inspectors, animal health inspectors and animal protection officers, municipal police, RCMP and First Nations safety officers.
Provincial officials can enforce the orders in public places within the City of Winnipeg, Pallister said. They’ll be able to hand out fines, unlike city bylaw officers.
The province will also recruit volunteers through the Help Next Door website to educate the public about the health orders. They will pass along matters that need formal enforcement to the appropriate authorities.
These officials will complement the work of people who are already enforcing the public health orders, Pallister said.
Manitobans mostly have been following the rules, including not congregating in groups larger than 10 and physical distancing, but “some of us need reminding,” he said.
Breaking the rules — which ban public and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, force many businesses to stay closed and require people in stores to stay two metres apart — can cost $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses.
However, “education is key” and the first goal of enforcement, Pallister said.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating, but it’s necessary to repeat messages even when they’re fundamentally so important to many of us,” he said.
“Some people just need to have a message repeated again and again.”
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