How the City of Winnipeg is stepping up COVID-19 enforcement

WINNIPEG — The City of Winnipeg is ramping up enforcement of the province’s COVID-19 public health orders.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, along with Jay Shaw, the manager for the city’s emergency operations centre, announced the measures Friday morning in a news conference.

Bylaw enforcement officers from community services will be pulled from their regular duties, and be redeployed into public health order enforcement throughout the city.

“This will of course have an impact on the city’s bylaw enforcement activities,” Bowman said. “I would like to just ask Winnipeggers for their patience in those areas as the city steps up to support the province in enforcing provincial public health orders.”

Shaw said the city is doing its best to manage the regular work in community services without the five officers, but also noted there will some delays in responding to complaints under the Neighbourhood Livability Bylaw.

“The department will still prioritize inspections that pose a life safety issue, but other inspections, such as exterior defects on property, may be delayed,” he said.

Shaw said five bylaw officers will be redeployed.

“These bylaw officers will be focusing on two specific areas; proactive inspection of facilities that have been ordered closed as per the latest public health orders, and occupancy and social distancing requirements for facilities that have been allowed to remain open, such as gyms, fitness centres and yoga studios,” he said.

The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has been under code red restrictions since Nov. 2, which limits gathering sizes to five people.

All city-owned gyms, indoor pools, arenas, recreational facilities, and libraries have closed until further notice, and the city has suspended all of its recreational and leisure programs and services. Non-city owned gyms can be open, but with restrictions on capacity, and mandatory masks.

Individuals and businesses can be fined for violating rules on gathering sizes or not enforcing physical distancing. The maximum fines are $1,296 for individuals and $5,000 for corporations.

Bowman said fines collected would go towards the city’s efforts to battle COVID-19, such as the purpose of personal protective equipment for city staff.

Bowman and Shaw reminded residents that they need to “get back to the fundamentals” of physical distancing, washing hands, wearing a mask, and reducing contacts to help flatten the curve.

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