The Manitoba government won’t be implementing a proposed curfew in the Winnipeg area to curb the rise in COVID-19 at this time, Premier Brian Pallister announced Thursday.
Pallister said health officials feel the measure would be premature right now, given that Winnipeg and the surrounding area are only a few days into the latest heightened public health restrictions, and the province wants to allow more time for the restrictions to work.
Instead, the province plans to beef up its enforcement, the premier said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
“There will be consequences for people when they put others in danger, when they put themselves in danger,” Pallister said.
Manitobans responded in great numbers to the province’s online survey on the proposed curfew, he said, with many saying that they would support it if necessary, but would prefer the province focused on catching people breaking the rules.
The Manitoba government will spend about $2.5 million on enforcement efforts of COVID-19 restrictions, which also include improving its tip line for reporting COVID-19 rule breakers, Pallister said.
Manitoba health officials reported four more deaths related to COVID-19 and 427 new cases on Thursday — the province’s second-highest increase in a single day.
The number of patients in hospital with the illness also jumped Thursday to 153 — the highest number to date — with 16 people in intensive care.
Ad campaign targets youth
In addition, the province is launching a new digital ad campaign about how COVID-19 spreads, which appears to be targeted at young people.
One of the ads, played during Thursday’s news conference, features a young man talking about how he caught COVID-19 and then spread it to someone who later died.
The ad shows the young man having a drink and socializing with numerous friends.
“I wanted to feel like things were normal again,” the man says.
It then shows him going about his day, and how many people he comes into contact with. He goes on to say that while he might be fine after catching COVID, others were not so lucky.
The ad closes on a grim picture: the man standing over a coffin.
The province also announced Thursday its enforcement will include granting a range of personnel across various agencies the power to hand out tickets to people breaking COVID-19 regulations, and plans to reimburse municipalities for any tickets written by their staff.
Additional enforcement powers will be granted to provincial staff including motor carrier enforcement officers (who enforce the Highway Traffic Act, and work at weigh stations and operate patrol vehicles across Manitoba), fire safety inspectors and water resources officers, the province said in a news release.
The province will also reimburse municipalities for the equivalent value of any tickets written by municipal bylaw enforcement officers.
Earlier this week, Pallister said the government was “seriously considering” instituting a curfew to curb group gatherings in an effort to stamp out the current surge in cases.
He blamed the recent spike in COVID-19 cases on “late-night situations in Winnipeg,” and also vowed to ramp up enforcement measures.
On Tuesday, the province launched an online survey for the public to give feedback on the idea.
Winnipeg police have also pledged to ramp up their enforcement of public health orders, saying they’ll focus on breaking up house parties and other big gatherings.
Fines for violating COVID-19 health orders in Manitoba are now set at $1,296 for individuals and $5,000 for businesses.