Manitoba ministers apologize for not wearing masks indoors during gala photo op
Health minister says she will pay fine if it's levied
Two Manitoba cabinet ministers apologized for removing their face masks at an indoor gala on Saturday, and want people in the province to know it was an isolated incident.
Families minister Rochelle Squires, health minister Audrey Gordon and Cathy Cox, the minister of sport, culture and heritage were photographed standing away from their tables, without masks on, inside the Winnipeg Art Gallery in pictures posted to Squires' social media.
Masks are required in all indoor public places in Manitoba unless people are seated to eat or drink.
Gordon, the MLA for Southdale, was asked about her choice to remove her mask for a group picture at a news conference on Monday announcing rapid COVID-19 tests for travellers and apologized for the move.
"I want to comment first by apologizing to Manitobans and in particular as well my constituents in the area of of Southdale. I do believe that as minister of health, I should be held to a higher standard and I have always upheld that standard," she said.
"I want Manitobans to know that the restrictions are there to protect all of us, regardless of where we are and what the event might be, and that this is not going to happen again."
Gordon said she hasn't heard if she will be fined, but will "gladly pay it."
Squires also offered up an apology about her choice to remove the mask.
"When I'm out in public, I do believe in adhering to the public health orders and have worn my mask on all occasions. On Saturday night was a mistake, and I apologize for that," she said.
WATCH | Gordon and Squires apologize for not wearing masks
Both ministers pointed to their participation in another event that same weekend where they were masked the whole time, and pictured wearing the personal protective equipment, to show that they take the health orders seriously.
CBC News reached out to provincial communications for a comment from Cox on Sunday, but hasn't yet heard back.
Amy Rebecca Harrison, the engagement supervisor for the art gallery said the fundraising gala kept capacity to less than 50 per cent and proof of double immunization was required to enter.
"Guests were advised to wear face masks when not seated unless taking a sip of a drink. Some chose to remove masks to have their photo taken, although we did advise that they keep their mask on," she wrote in an email on Sunday.
"We increased staff and volunteer presence to escort guests to tables, to hold doors open to reduce contact, to remind guests to wear masks and to increase sanitization."