Pandemic enforcement officials to pair up after alleged assault of inspector at Winnipeg car wash

The alleged assault of a lone pandemic-enforcement officer at an east Winnipeg car wash has led Manitoba to instruct inspectors to work in pairs when they approach rule-breakers.

Lone female inspector alleges man who refused to wear mask grabbed her from behind and smashed her phone

Police are investigating the alleged assault of a pandemic enforcement officer at this Panet Road car wash. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

The alleged assault of a lone pandemic enforcement officer at an east Winnipeg car wash has led Manitoba to instruct inspectors to work in pairs when they approach rule-breakers.

According to internal provincial communications obtained by CBC News, the Winnipeg Police Service is investigating an incident reported by an employee of G4S Canada, a security company contracted by Manitoba to enforce pandemic restrictions.

On the morning of Friday, Feb. 19, the inspector was called to a complaint about a customer not wearing a mask inside the Shell Car Wash on Panet Road in East Elmwood, the communication stated.

Manitobans must wear masks in indoor public places. If they do not, they may be fined $298.

On Feb. 19, the inspector found one person without a mask and asked that person to provide identification. When that person refused to show ID, the inspector took a photo of the person's licence plate and left the car wash to call her supervisor, the provincial communication stated.

Once outside, she was grabbed from behind by an alleged assailant, who also smashed her phone and threw both her car keys and clipboard, the communication stated.

The inspector was unhurt but shaken by the incident, the communication stated.

An attendant at the car wash who witnessed the incident said the alleged assailant was male and possibly middle-aged. The inspector was grabbed by her arm, he said. 

The Winnipeg Police Service declined comment on the grounds that an investigation is underway.

WATCH | Dr. Jazz Atwal says enforcement officers deserve respect after alleged assault:

Dr. Jazz Atwal says enforcement officers deserve respect, after alleged assault on Winnipeg officer

CBC News Manitoba

2 months ago
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's deputy chief provincial public health officer, said Friday the people who enforce COVID-19 public health orders should be respected, after a lone pandemic enforcement officer was allegedly assaulted at a Winnipeg car wash. 0:34

G4S pandemic-enforcement inspectors are now going to work in teams of two, the communication stated.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Justice would not say whether this will be the practice for all enforcement officials.

"The number of officials involved in COVID-19 enforcement varies depending on the situation," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Manitoba Justice also declined to comment of the specifics of the alleged assault.

"In general, enforcement officers are working to enforce public health orders which are in place to protect the health and safety of Manitobans, and we appreciate the public's cooperation," the spokesperson said. 

"Any behaviour that affects enforcement officers' ability to do their jobs or constitutes harassment or assault will be taken seriously and turned over to the authorities, if appropriate."

G4S Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Both provincial officials and contractors conduct pandemic enforcement work for Manitoba.

Since enforcement efforts began in April, a total of 992 tickets have been issued, resulting in more than $1.3 million in fines to businesses and individual people. 


Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.