Community of Gimli steps up pandemic response by mandating masks in municipal buildings

The city of Selkirk made the COVID Alert app mandatory on all city employee work phones since Aug. 12, before the app was made available to Manitobans.

Nearby community of Selkirk says COVID-19 app is mandatory on all city employee phones

The RM of Gimli has elevated pandemic restrictions by making masks mandatory in all municipal buildings, including recreation facilities. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

The Rural Municipality of Gimli, Man., has stepped up its pandemic response by making masks mandatory at all municipal buildings, which include recreation facilities and hockey rinks.

Citizens are being discouraged from visiting administrative buildings unless it is "absolutely necessary." Officials are also asking people to make payments electronically or have payments mailed in.

Gimli is not one of the communities on the code orange, or "restricted," levels on the province's pandemic response system. 

Mayor Lynn Greenberg said the move is about being proactive.

"This whole COVID-19 ... it's very serious, and we're just trying to spread that message out for people to be careful," Greenberg told Radio Noon host Marjorie Dowhos on Friday. 

He said so far the response has been positive. Greenberg said many people are already wearing masks in the community.

"I know a lot of our businesses, the employees there have been wearing masks for some time," he said. "There's a lot of people voluntarily wearing masks in the community probably more than even last March."

Open to restrictions

While there are no active cases of COVID-19 in the town of Gimli right now, he said he's open to adding more restrictions if necessary.

"Things can change very quickly, you don't know what's going to happen, anything can happen," Greenberg said.

"We're trying to prepare for the worst."

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Greenberg said people are also being asked to sign in when they enter all municipal buildings.

"We want records of people coming in, just in case something does get reported from one of our buildings we want to know all the people that had contact," Greenberg said.

COVID Alert App mandatory for Selkirk employees

It's not the only community outside of Winnipeg taking extra steps to help control the spread of COVID-19.

The City of Selkirk made the COVID Alert app mandatory on all city employee work phones since Aug. 12, before the app was functional for Manitobans.

The app uses Bluetooth communication to notify users when and if they have been near another user who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Manitoba became the fifth province in the country to enable the app this week.

"It's just one more tool really, a no-brainer, the more people that are using the app, the more effective it is for everybody," said Selkirk chief administrative officer Duane Nicol.

The city is also taking extra measures to help keep the workplace safe by enhanced cleaning and having city workers travel in different vehicles when possible.

The City of Selkirk made the COVID Alert app mandatory on all city worker cell phones since August. The app became functional in Manitoba this week. (City of Selkirk)

Nicol said masks have been mandatory at all city-run facilities for the last few weeks, and all city staff have now been provided with masks.

Right now there are no active cases of COVID-19 in Selkirk, but like most people he says he's concerned.

"We know that we will," he said. "This isn't going to skip any community, we're all going to be facing this at some point and so the more we can do now to prevent it the better." 

He said he's encouraged to learn that some employees have taken it upon themselves to install the COVID Alert app on their personal phones too. 

"What's really important is the recognition that we're all citizens. I'm a lifelong citizen of Selkirk — this is my home city," Nicol said.

"I have friends and family, people that I've grown up with that I truly care about, and I want to do whatever we can to keep them safe."


  • An earlier version of this story said that Betel Home in Gimli earlier this year became the first personal care home in the province to have a positive case of COVID-19. In fact, that case was later determined to be a false positive.
    Oct 03, 2020 11:35 AM CT