Manitoba

19 Manitobans handed $1,296 tickets last week for gatherings banned under COVID-19 health orders

An enforcement officer was assaulted last week, when 27 tickets were handed out for breaking COVID-19 rules in Manitoba, with more than two-thirds of the infractions related to gatherings, the province says.

Enforcement officer assaulted in Winnipeg last week, release says

Five people were given $298 tickets for failing to wear masks last week. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

An enforcement officer was assaulted last week, when 27 tickets were handed out for breaking COVID-19 rules in Manitoba, with more than two-thirds of the infractions related to gatherings, the province says.

In total, Manitobans accused of breaking COVID-19 public health orders were told to pay close to $34,000 in fines last week, the province said in a news release. 

The news release does not say when the assault on an enforcement officer happened or if a ticket was given to the assailant for breaking a public health order, but the incident is under investigation. 

Among 21 tickets for $1,296 issued to individuals, 19 were linked to gatherings in private residences or outdoors, a provincial news release said Tuesday.

The current public health orders limit outdoor gatherings to five people maximum. Households can have two designated visitors at a time inside, but it must always be the same two visitors, and up to five people outside in addition to residents.

Five tickets of $298 each were handed out for failing to wear a mask in an indoor public place. One person was ticketed for allegedly failing to self-isolate under the federal Quarantine Act.

In all, the tickets issued from Feb. 15-21 carried a total of $33,856 in fines, the province said on its website.

Targeted messaging needed

Michelle Driedger, a professor in the University of Manitoba's department of Community Health Sciences who specializes in public health risk communications says Manitobans have started to tune out public health advice.

She said on CBC Radio's Up to Speed it's a combination of pandemic fatigue and people thinking they are exercising enough discretion, but making risky decisions.

Driedger would like to see data on who's getting ticketed so public health officials can send out more targeted messaging.

"For those of us who haven't been touched by COVID, it feels like a distant thing that happens to others," she said.

But how best to do that is challenging.

"There's no magic solution for how we're going to be able to address this, Driedger said.

She thinks stories hit home better than numbers do.

"We tend to tune numbers out."

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 individuals.

Manitobans are asked to report compliance or enforcement issues in their communities by completing a form online or by calling 204-945-3744 or 1-866-626-4862 (toll-free) and pressing three on the call menu.

With files from Rachel Bergen

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