Manitobans can now be fined for not wearing a mask
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is putting a new fine in place for people not wearing a mask in indoor public places.
The new law, announced Wednesday during the province’s COVID-19 bulletin, will see Manitobans fined $298 for not wearing a mask, which is required under the current public health orders.
“It’s only those places where you’re mandated under the public health orders, so those are indoor public places,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer. “Outdoor, we don’t have a mandate to wear masks, so indoor public places, those not wearing masks could be subject to a fine.”
Enforcement officials across Manitoba can issue the fine. Roussin said the enforcement will work similarly to a ticket, where people can pay or fight it in court.
The ticket announcement comes as Manitoba ramps up enforcement on people violating the current public health orders.
On Tuesday, the province announced in one week, they had given 54 warnings to people for violating health orders, and another 32 people were fined.
Manitoba RCMP fined eight people in November for a variety of offences, including not self-isolating as required and violating gathering size rules.
Fines of $1,296 for individuals and $5,000 for businesses can be issued in Manitoba for violations.
‘IT SEEMS LIKE THE WRONG PRIORITY’
Some Manitobans say tougher fines are needed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I think it should be higher,” said Elmer DeGuzman outside Grant Park shopping mall on Wednesday. “So all the people will follow the rules.”
While others think public health tickets could add to the financial burden facing many Manitobans.
“Three hundred dollars is a bit steep when no one is working,” one shopper told CTV News.
University of Manitoba medical ethicist Arthur Schafer said while tickets are an effective deterrent, hiring more enforcement officers to hand out fines may not be the best use of public funds.
“It seems like the wrong priority,” said Schafer.
He would prefer to see more money spent on contact tracing and ramping up testing.
“Yes, the fines will bring to people’s attention it’s really important (to wear a mask), but there are so many other resource needs.”