Grocery union president concerned Manitoba shoppers will ignore new COVID-19 restrictions

New COVID-19 restrictions come into effect at midnight across Manitoba, including a rule that allows only one member of a household to go into a business — with the exception of single parents or people who require a caregiver.

The president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) — which represents thousands of grocery workers — says he’s concerned that many people will simply ignore this latest restriction.

“Just like the issue with masks not being enforced properly in stores, we’re really concerned that this is just going to be another measure that workers will have to enforce rather than having management enforce them,” Jeff Traeger told 680 CJOB.

Read more: Manitoba bans outdoor social gatherings as COVID-19 cases reach record highs

“What we’re hearing is there are a lot of (customers) who are frustrated, and they’re taking out frustrations on cashiers at the till, and a lot of customers in the stores who are not wearing masks, and that’s a big concern for us.”

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Traeger said that while store occupancy limits are being stringently followed — because management will be fined if they aren’t — mask-wearing, or the lack thereof, isn’t dealt with as seriously.

“What the public health orders say is that their only responsibility is to remind people they have to wear masks and then they’re off the hook,” he said.

“They aren’t enforcing it.”

Doctor Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said the main message heading into the long weekend is for Manitobans to stay home.

“I can’t understate the importance of staying at home now,” he said at a Thursday press conference.

“We’re just seeing such increased transmission right now, increased demand on our health-care system.”

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