Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen rebuked anti-mask protesters who gathered in Steinbach on Saturday in a statement, calling their actions “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong.”

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/11/2020 (381 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen rebuked anti-mask protesters who gathered in Steinbach on Saturday in a statement, calling their actions "incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong."

Cullen's statement came Sunday afternoon, not long after the latest COVID-19 numbers were released, which revealed new daily record case numbers of the virus in the province.

Nearly 500 more virus cases of were reported, as 10 more deaths were announced as well.

The 494 new cases of the virus identified were a new daily record, moving past the 480-case count reported just over two weeks ago on Oct. 30.

Of the newly reported figures, a total of 266 cases were identified in the Winnipeg health region, 136 new cases were reported in Southern Health, 34 cases in Prairie Mountain Health, 30 cases in the Northern health region and 28 cases in Interlake-Eastern.

The rising numbers in the Southern Health region came a day after anti-mask protesters staged a rally in Steinbach, where the city's hospital has come under strain. Outbreaks have been declared at Steinbach personal care home facilities already and now, in neighbouring Ste. Anne, the province advised on Sunday an outbreak has also been declared at Villa Youville personal care home.

Cullen said the province has made clear Manitobans need to follow the direction of public health officials to control COVID-19 and called out the nearly 200 people gathered in Steinbach on Saturday afternoon for the anti-mask protest.

'The willingness of some to disregard openly our public health officials is unacceptable," Cullen said.

"My message to those individuals is clear: if you are going to break COVID restrictions, you will be ticketed."

The minister expressed thanks to officers enforcing public health orders during the rally.

"The language and vitriol experienced by our enforcement personnel at yesterday’s event is absolutely unacceptable. These individuals are working to keep all Manitobans healthy and safe so we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives."

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen called actions of protesters at a Steinbach anti-mask event on Saturday “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong.”

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen called actions of protesters at a Steinbach anti-mask event on Saturday “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong.”

Cullen reiterated the message of Manitoba's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brent Roussin, stressing the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.

Municipal Relations Minister Rochelle Squires added to the government's response on Sunday afternoon, posting a copy of a letter on Twitter that she sent on Friday to La Broquerie Reeve Lewis Weiss.

The head of council from the rural municipality next door to Steinbach has championed the anti-mask cause in recent weeks.

In the letter, Squires reminded Weiss that as an elected official he has the responsibility to follow enactments of the Manitoba legislature, including public health orders.

"If your actions inside or outside the council chambers continue to contravene the expectations prescribed in your municipal code of conduct by-law, your fellow council members may choose to file a formal code of conduct complaint against you," she told him.

The letter noted that sanctions under code-of-conduct bylaws could result in a suspension from council for up to 90 days or a fine of up to $1,000.

She advised Weiss to, "carefully consider how your words and actions may impact the safety of your community, and take appropriate next steps to resolve the situation."

Weiss attended the Steinbach rally on Saturday and was slapped with a $1,296 fine.

New deaths announced Sunday, officials said, range in date from Nov. 3 to Nov. 14 and include seven more virus victims from Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg. One woman and two men in their 80s, along with two women and two men in their 90s, have been added to the growing number of deaths at the facility.

The three other deaths were reported as a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region, a man in his 100s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the Seine River Retirement Residence, Assisted Living Facility cluster, and a female in her 70s from Southern Health.

The provincial death total has risen to 162.

The test positivity rate in the province is currently 12.4 per cent provincially and 13.1 per cent in Winnipeg.

Currently, 220 people are in hospital with a record number of 41 people in intensive care.