Winnipeg's mayor calls for tighter lockdown on eve of new Manitoba restrictions
'Now is not the time to tinker,' says Brian Bowman as new provincial health orders come into effect
Before admonishing the provincial government for not going far enough to lock down Manitoba as COVID-19 cases surged, Mayor Brian Bowman gave a finger-wag at Winnipeggers.
Stay home and resist the urge to celebrate the good weather or a last night of more modest restrictions was his message.
"I would ask Winnipeggers: don't party like it's 1999 tonight or in the coming days or weeks. We know right now the weather is beautiful … don't squeeze in some last-minute overcrowded barbecues in your backyard or have people over to your house tonight," Bowman told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
The province's latest public health orders intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 come into effect as of Wednesday. The orders leave gatherings in public places capped at 10, with further restrictions in place at midnight to the retail, restaurant and recreational sectors, as well as at faith-based gatherings.
In addition, most Manitobans will no longer be allowed to have any visitors at private residences, either inside or outside. People who live alone are allowed one visitor.
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Most of the new COVID-19 cases announced Tuesday — 156 of 218 across the province — were in Winnipeg, with 30 found in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 15 in Southern Health, 12 in Northern Health and five in Interlake-Eastern.
Bowman said he feels strongly the provincial Progressive Conservative government is not going far enough or reacting soon enough to stomp on the increasing case numbers and variants of the coronavirus that causes the disease.
"Yeah, I do. I think now is not the time to tinker. I think we need stronger, more proactive measures and we'll continue to advocate in our dialogue with the province to be as proactive as as possible," Bowman said.
He pointed to stricter health orders and restrictions last fall as the path toward getting the case numbers down.
"The concern is that … the less proactive the measures are, the more likely that heavier, more restrictive measures are going to be required at a later date," he said.
On a bustling street corner in Osborne Village Tuesday evening, reaction to Bowman's calls for tighter measures was mixed.
Robin Morrissette vowed to shave his beard — the discomfort from wearing a mask so often finally triggered the decision — but he sees value in locking things down tight once again.
"It's not going to last forever. The faster we get it over with, the faster we can take these things off and try and get back to some normalcy," Morrissette said, pulling at his mask.
Yet others aren't so enthusiastic about another tight lockdown, as fatigue with more than a year of pandemic is wearing some people out.
"Even if they tighten it, things are not going to be normal," said Louise Beauchemin, adding Tuesday was the first time she's been outside in a week.
"I'm so bored with watching movies. I'm bored of talking on the phone instead of looking at somebody. And these darn masks — when you look at a baby, the baby doesn't even know you're smiling."