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Winnipeg’s mayor is urging the provincial government to make face masks mandatory across Manitoba at indoor public places to help lessen the spread of COVID-19.
"(Masks) can play a role in helping support some of the other fundamentals, like washing one’s hands and physically distancing. And so we’ve been leading on this within our city facilities and transit buses," Brian Bowman said Tuesday.
"I hope (provincial officials) are considering making masks mandatory province-wide. I think it could go a long way."
Since Aug. 29, people visiting indoor city facilities and riding Winnipeg Transit have been required to wear non-medical face masks.
Those who don’t wear masks on buses could face a $100 fine, though the city had yet to issue a ticket by Tuesday afternoon.
The mayor said Winnipeg could create a bylaw to extend its indoor mask mandate beyond city buildings and vehicles. However, Bowman said a provincial change would be preferable, as he believes that would provide consistent rules across municipalities and could be enforced as a health order.
"The quickest and most effective way to co-ordinate our response on masks is for the provincial government to consider a mandatory mask (rule) province-wide. But there are measures (the city) could look at in the future, if necessary," said Bowman.
Winnipeg's active case count reached 305 Tuesday, up from 89 on Sept. 1. A total of 380 active cases were reported across the province.
While chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin has said the spike in local cases is a concern, the province hasn’t imposed a mask requirement in the capital.
On Monday, Roussin said the number of active cases in Winnipeg was still below the per-capita rate that led to a temporary mask mandate for public places in the Prairie Mountain Health region. That mandate ended Sept. 18.
"We’re not seeing a heavy burden on our health-care system at this point. But we are watching these things very closely and we do want to be able to respond when necessary. So we didn’t make that decision today but, like we said, nothing’s off the table," Roussin said.
The province requires masks for hospital and health-centre visits and anyone on a school bus. Students in Grades 4 to 12, along with teachers and school staff, must also wear masks at school during times they can’t physically distance.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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