RCMP charge 8 people for breaking non-essential travel ban to northern Manitoba
In Winnipeg, bylaw officers issued close to 300 warnings over long weekend
RCMP have charged eight people for not respecting the COVID-19-related ban on non-essential travel to northern Manitoba over the Victoria Day long weekend.
Non-essential travel north of the 53rd parallel of latitude, and to remote communities in Manitoba that are not connected to the provincial highway system, is currently prohibited under current public health orders.
RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre said the individuals told officers they were visiting friends and family in the Thompson area.
Manaigre said they told officers they knew the public health orders were in place, but chose to ignore them.
"They were aware of the wish for that restriction to be carried out, like to comply," he said.
"At this point, a warning is not going to really help because they're still in the area. That message has to be sent. Well, you drove up here when knowingly you shouldn't have. You have to leave the charge."
Seven people from Winnipeg and one from Dauphin were each fined $486.
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Manaigre said the number of calls related to COVID-19 have been decreasing over the past couple of weeks, he said, adding that for a while they were averaging 100 calls a week, and lately it has dropped by nearly half, to closer to 50 or 60.
Forty-eight complaints were called in over the weekend, which he said brought last week's total to around 60 or 70.
"To kind of coin the phrase that they use to 'flatten the curve' for the number of COVID-19-related virus reports, it's kind of similar for the RCMP. I think we've flattened the curve there, now we're on a downtrend," he said.
"I hope that continues. It's hard to say."
But he said the rise of warm weather could change things.
RCMP did not have specifics about the complaints they have been receiving but said mostly regarding large gatherings, and more than 100 charges last week were not related to health orders.
Hundreds of warnings handed out in Winnipeg
Winnipeg's bylaw officers were also busy this May long weekend enforcing public health orders that ban large gatherings and reminding people to practise physical distancing.
Data collected by the City of Winnipeg shows that bylaw officers and city ambassadors gave out 283 verbal warnings from Friday to Monday reminding people to practise physical distancing.
They also handed out 95 warnings for large group gatherings.
Despite the warnings, only two tickets were handed out by city officials.
It's a sharp spike compared to the weekend prior, when bylaw officers gave out 36 warnings to people not practicing physical distancing, and didn't catch anyone holding large gatherings.
Winnipeg police say they dealt with 42 complaints related to public health orders between May 10 and May 17. They gave out two warnings, but didn't issue any tickets, a police spokesperson said via email.
Across the province, RCMP say they received 48 calls related to COVID-19 public health orders.
Most of the calls were about people gathering in groups larger than 10 and not respecting orders in place under the Public Health Act.
With files from Peggy Lam