'I don't understand': Manitoba's top doctor frustrated with lack of compliance for COVID-19 restrictions
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, listen to a media question during the province's latest COVID-19 update at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg Friday, October 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
WINNIPEG -- This past Thursday, the province of Manitoba was moved into the red or critical level on the pandemic response system as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Manitoba has seen a growing number of cases and deaths, with 392 cases on Monday and 10 new deaths.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province's chief provincial public health officer, has continued to repeat the message of stay home and only go out for essential reasons.
However, he said this was not happening on the weekend.
"We saw examples of stores that were open as if there was no such thing as COVID. We saw packed parking lots, we saw crowded stores," said Roussin.
He said if stores were busy and crowded, then they weren't following the public health orders that require businesses to be at 25 per cent capacity.
Roussin noted some places needed to stay open like grocery stores, pet stores, and other businesses that provide essential services, but the capacity and physical distancing measures must still be in place to keep people safe.
"We don't want Manitobans out shopping for non-essential items," said Roussin, who added many items can be purchased online and even essential items can be bought using curbside pickup.
"Don't look for reasons to go out. Look for reasons to stay home."
He said if stores continue not to follow the rules, enforcement will be needed, which will result in fines.
SKIRTING THE RULES
Roussin also touched on the fact that some businesses are finding loopholes in the health orders to stay open.
"We know of many businesses that have purposely tried to remain open by not following the spirit of the orders. Trying to find ways to now sell small amounts of what is critical, in order so they can stay open and continue selling their non-essential items. This hurts Manitobans."
Due to the actions of some, Roussin said the guidelines which determine what are essential businesses might need to change.
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CONTACTS
On top of the rules for businesses, Roussin said Manitobans need to be reducing their contacts and the only people on their contact list should be those in their household.
"A case over the weekend had 85 contacts," said Roussin. "We can't manage this pandemic if cases have 85 contacts.
"85 contacts put us all at risk. We can't accept that."
For those who are having to do the contact tracing for the province, mainly public health nurses, Roussin said they have been receiving a lot of verbal abuse for informing people that they are a contact of someone.
"They're getting yelled at, sworn at,” he said.
"Business operators yelling at public health nurses because they are advising them that employees are ill and need to self-isolate. I don't understand the thought process behind that. Should we have infectious people at your store, putting others, putting your patrons at risk?"
Roussin said he understands this is tough right now but Manitobans can not accept this behavior and it is not the fault of the public health nurses.
"We are all in this together."