3 more people arrested, charged with repeat violations of Manitoba's pandemic health orders

Enforcement officers have arrested and charged three more people who are accused of repeatedly violating pandemic public health orders.

2 more warrants outstanding for people accused of breaking COVID-19 rules more than once

Four people have now been arrested and charged with repeatedly violating pandemic public health orders, the province's justice minister said Wednesday. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Three more people accused of repeatedly violating Manitoba's public health orders have been arrested and charged, the province's justice minister says.

Cameron Friesen announced the additional arrests at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Last Friday, Winnipeg police announced the province's first arrest of someone accused of breaking rules intended to stop the spread of COVID-19.

At the time, police said there were five outstanding warrants for other alleged repeat offenders. 

Friesen said following the latest arrests, there are now two outstanding warrants for those accused of repeat health order offences. Law enforcement officers are working on bringing one of the accused into custody, while the other individual is out of province, he said. 

A Winnipeg police spokesperson confirmed last week that one of the warrants issued at that point was for Ontario anti-masker Chris Saccoccia, otherwise known as Chris Sky, who has been travelling across Canada to hold illegal rallies that draw hundreds of unmasked people in defiance of pandemic public health orders.

Saccoccia was set to attend such a rally in Winnipeg last Friday, but said on social media that he would be avoiding Manitoba due to the arrest warrant. 

3 men arrested in Winnipeg

Court documents show three men — Todd McDougall, 36, Patrick Allard, 39. and Gerald Bohemier, 71 — have been charged for allegedly taking part in public gatherings twice in Winnipeg: once on April 27, and again on May 15. 

In all three cases, the charges relate to gatherings of more than five people in an outdoor public place, in violation of the current health orders, which ban all gatherings with anyone except a person's household members.

Individuals breaking public health orders can be ticketed $1,296 for a first offence; corporations can be fined $5,000.

Repeat offenders and people who do not pay tickets on time face steeper fines.

Friesen said his department is still investigating additional charges for those who have attended large rallies in Winnipeg to protest pandemic restrictions.

Friesen was also asked about whether the ban on public gatherings will be enforced at events to remember the 215 children whose remains were discovered in an unmarked burial site on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School last week.

He said this is "an incredibly challenging situation" but that the province's message remains that people should avoid public gatherings and stay home due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Enforcement officers in Manitoba handed out 161 tickets to people accused of breaking COVID-19 rules last week, breaking the record for the most tickets given in a week for the second week in a row. 

Of the 161 tickets issued between May 24-30, 44 were for gatherings in private residences or outdoors.