Pallister pledges greater enforcement following anti-mask rally


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Hundreds of anti-mask protesters at The Forks got a response from the provincial government on Monday — but it wasn't what they were asking for.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/04/2021 (642 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hundreds of anti-mask protesters at The Forks got a response from the provincial government on Monday — but it wasn’t what they were asking for.

Just one day after as many as 400 people gathered at an unsanctioned rally in the field in front of the CN stage, forcing The Forks to close small businesses in The Forks Market to protect workers and patrons, Premier Brian Pallister not only assured Manitobans there had been tickets issued, but there would soon be increased enforcement of violations of public health orders along with more restrictive orders coming in force on Wednesday.

“I understand tickets were issued,” said Pallister at a news conference on Monday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Chris “Sky” Saccoccia speaks at an anti-mask rally at the Forks in Winnipeg Sunday.

“You’ll have to wait until (Tuesday) to get detail from officials as to how many. But I agree enforcement is a concern and I agree very much that we need to step it up. So I’ve made that decision clear and we will be looking at additional enforcement in malls, in big box stores, as well as recreational events — most certainly at these types of events like the one at The Forks. There has to be enforcement there.

“We’ve seen violations of public health orders too many times and there needs to be consequences there because most of us are doing the right things and we need all of us to do the right things.”

The rally saw well-known anti-mask advocate Chris Saccoccia from Ontario speak, as well as Tobias Tissen, the minister of Church of God Restoration near Steinbach which has been repeatedly fined for violating public health orders.

Forks spokeswoman Clare MacKay said even though the rally was at The Forks no one applied to hold it.

“We weren’t asked for permission,” said MacKay. “We didn’t provide it.”

She said because of safety reasons they decided to tell businesses inside the market area to close. MacKay said some rally participants made it known they planned to protest inside the market area following the rally.

“It’s unfortunate at a time when small businesses are hurting we had to do this, but we had to keep people safe,” she said.

Const. Rob Carver, a spokesman for the Winnipeg Police Service, said any answers about how many tickets may have been issued at the rally would have to come from the province.

“WPS was aware of the rally at the Forks and was monitoring the situation in support of Public Health,” said Carver.

“While people have certainly been issued tickets for non-compliance with the provincial public-health orders, I’m not aware of anyone who has been arrested.”

A spokeswoman for the province said no information about the enforcement will be released until Tuesday, the weekday the province determined a few months ago would be designated for weekly enforcement updates.

Meanwhile, Pallister maintained the restrictions implemented through the pandemic have helped the province.

“These measures have saved thousands of lives,” he said.

“We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves, our families, our loved ones and our health-care system too. The level of caution needs to remain very, very high.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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