Winnipeg city councillor latest to apologize for not wearing a mask in gala dinner photo
A city councillor is the latest attendee of an event at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Saturday to apologize for appearing in a photo while not wearing a mask.
Coun. Markus Chambers (St. Norbert-Seine River) said he briefly took off his mask for one photo while standing behind people seated at his table but wore one the rest of the night.
His apology comes a day after three Manitoba cabinet ministers apologized for not wearing masks at the event in photos posted to social media.
Everyone who attended was required to show proof of double vaccination.
Under Manitoba’s public health orders, people are also required to wear masks in indoor public spaces with a few exceptions, including when you’re eating or drinking.
Kyle Watters, who was visiting the art gallery Tuesday, was disappointed to see the mask rules weren’t followed over the weekend by people in positions of power, including the health minister. As a visitor to the gallery, Watters is required to wear a mask while inside.
“If you are that person in power and you’re taking a photo you should probably stick by the stuff you’re saying,” Watters said. “Making all these rules for everyone else but you can’t do it yourself.”
“If you are that person in power, you kind of have to take the lead and lead by example.”
Health Minister Audrey Gordon and Ministers Rochelle Squires and Cathy Cox apologized Monday for not wearing masks in photos taken at the Winnipeg Art Gallery that were posted on social media. Minister Gordon said she took off her mask while seated at a table and then got up to take a group photo, neglecting to put her mask back on.
The health minister offered her assurances it will not happen again.
“I didn’t think much deeper about my decision to pose for the photo and for that I ask for forgiveness,” Gordon said Monday. “I feel very badly about it.”
When asked Tuesday by CTV News to explain another photo at the same event in which Minister Gordon was photographed standing with a group without wearing a mask, the health minister once again offered an apology but didn’t elaborate on the circumstances.
Chambers attended the same event and appeared in a photo with the three cabinet ministers who apologized in which everyone was wearing a mask.
“We go to these events and we’re trying our best, our level best, to ensure that we are abiding by the health protocols that are in place,” Chambers said.
Chambers also appeared in a photo with three fellow city councillors, Mayor Brian Bowman, and the director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery in which everyone was wearing a mask. But Chambers said he’s received negative feedback for appearing in a photo he posted to social media which shows him not wearing a mask while standing behind people seated at his table.
“If it created the perception that we weren’t following the health orders, I deeply apologize if that was the perception that was created,” Chambers said. “All of the other pictures shown whether I was walking into the building or walking around building, I was wearing my mask 99.9 per cent of the time unless I was eating.”
Chambers said in the one photo where he wasn’t wearing a mask he was in the middle of eating and stood up briefly for the photo op.
The art gallery said guests were advised to wear masks when not seated unless eating or drinking.
The fine for not wearing a mask is $298. The province hasn’t responded to questions about whether any the attendees will be ticketed but Chambers and Gordon have said they’ll pay if they are.
The art gallery said capacity for the event was limited to less than 50 per cent.