Manitoba’s strict lockdown enforcement resulted in 100 tickets worth $181,574 last week alone.
The tickets have gone to individuals, businesses and even churches who allegedly defied COVID-19 public health orders.
Of the 100 citations, 22 were $5,000 fines issued to businesses for various offences, such as not adequately enforcing social distancing or reminding customers to wear masks. 23 individuals were ticketed for not wearing masks at indoor public places, and 48 for other non-compliance. The remaining seven were band bylaw tickets issued by Manitoba First Nations Police.
With a force of over 3,300 people, the province uses a combination of RCMP, law enforcement agencies, provincial employees, and municipal partners to actively enforce the new restrictions. With hundreds of staff being trained each week, the enforcement personnel will continue to grow.
Since April when the emergency order was put into effect, Manitoba has issued 353 tickets worth a total of $549,846.
Premier Brian Pallister has been unrepentant about the enforcement sweep, including against those who have been assembling to protest against the lockdown measures.
“Peaceful protest in a democracy is never to be taken lightly, but today’s public health and emergency orders matter more,” Pallister said at a news conference.
The province set out to heavily enforce the restrictions as of Nov. 15, issuing over $126,000 in fines that week as Manitoba moved to send a “clear message” that these rules are to be adhered to. The past two weeks have made up 56% of the fines.
In a media bulletin, the province claims some individuals and businesses require “additional enforcement and education,” urging Manitobans to report compliance and enforcement issues to their municipal governments.
As a result of the last two weekends of protest at the rural Church of God Restoration near Steinbach, the province issued six fines of $1,296 to individuals who attended and a business fine of $5,000 to the church. A drive-in service at Winnipeg’s Springs Church similarly saw a ticket worth almost $1,300 issued.
Despite the police blockade last Sunday and charges being laid against the church and members of its congregation, in a statement to True North, Church of God Pastor Tobias Tissen said the church plans to continue holding its services.“I am wanting to meet with police to see if we can come to an agreement that they will let us continue peacefully,” Tissen said.