Winnipeg bylaw officer fines fitness centre $5K for COVID-19 violation

A second Winnipeg business has been fined by city bylaw officers for opening in violation of provincial COVID-19 health orders, as Mayor Brian Bowman urges people to stay home as much as possible and support local businesses.

Mayor Brian Bowman urges people to stay home, shop local

Mayor Brian Bowman and Jay Shaw, head of the city's emergency management department, say city bylaw officers have fined a second business for opening in violation of provincial health orders. (CBC)

City of Winnipeg bylaw officers have ticketed another business for violating provincial COVID-19 public health orders.

Serratus Movement Centre on Henlow Bay was fined $5,000 for being open when ordered to close, Jay Shaw, head of the city's emergency management department, announced at a news conference with Mayor Brian Bowman on Friday.

Since the city began assigning bylaw officers to enforce the orders, they have inspected 159 facilities and issued two warnings to individuals for not wearing masks, and two businesses have received fines.

"I think our city bylaw officers have been working very well with our counterparts in the province, under the direction of their leadership team at the province," Shaw said.

Serratus is the second business city bylaw officers have fined since they began enforcing the orders on Nov. 6. The first was Gymboree Play Centre on Kenaston Boulevard.

City and provincial officials are in discussions to determine whether more bylaw officers are needed to enforce the orders, Shaw said. 

"I think people will come around. Enforcement is pretty good and people are complying for the most part, but there's going to be the odd person that isn't. When that happens, we will issue a ticket," he said.

People can report violations of the health orders to 311, at any time of day, seven days a week, Bowman said.

Bowman urged people to stay home as much as possible and to only leave for essential items or to go to work, if they can't work from home. If people must physically go to work, they should go straight to work and then straight home, he said.

"If every Winnipegger puts in this effort now, and makes these sacrifices to our everyday lives, we will flatten the curve once again."

He also encouraged people to order online from local businesses whenever possible.

"Order delivery, support local businesses at every opportunity, if you have the means. If you're starting to look at gifts for the holiday season, I'd encourage you and I encourage all Winnipeggers support our local businesses, especially those that aren't able to physically open right now," Bowman said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has said that Manitoba's health orders have put small local businesses at an unfair disadvantage, compared to big box stores that sell essential items like groceries but also other retail items.

The federation wants Manitoba to consider blocking the sale of non-essential items in some stores, which some jurisdictions in the U.K. and the United States have done.

With files from Marina Von Stackelberg