October 25, 2020

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City may close arenas if visitors ignore COVID rules

'Wear a friggin' mask', mayor says

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>“While I recognize that not everyone can wear a mask, for everyone else, simple message: Wear a friggin’ mask. Look after people other than yourself,” said Mayor Brian Bowman.</p>

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS FILES

“While I recognize that not everyone can wear a mask, for everyone else, simple message: Wear a friggin’ mask. Look after people other than yourself,” said Mayor Brian Bowman.

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Winnipeg officials say COVID-19 health rules are too often ignored at hockey events and if spectators don’t shape up soon, city arenas could wind up closing.

"We really want people to be able to enjoy these facilities. I don’t want to have to shut them down," said Jason Shaw, Winnipeg’s assistant chief of emergency management.

The city noted a shutdown could be ordered by the provincial or municipal government, if some hockey enthusiasts don’t wear masks and/or follow social distancing rules more consistently. Prior to that, groups using the facilities could face new restrictions or see their specific access cut off, Shaw said.

However, he stressed that he’s hopeful education will be enough to improve adherence to public health rules.

Mayor Brian Bowman echoed the message that failure to comply with the rules could have serious consequences.

"Everybody that’s not following the rules needs to smarten up, and they need to follow those health orders, because I don’t think the province or the municipal government is going to rule anything out," said Bowman.

The mayor offered a blunt reminder that all Winnipeggers must follow a provincial order to wear a mask in all indoor public places, as the number of COVID-19 cases surges.

"While I recognize that not everyone can wear a mask, for everyone else, simple message: Wear a friggin’ mask. Look after people other than yourself," said Bowman.

Following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city, the province announced it will cut indoor and outdoor gathering size limits in the Winnipeg region from 10 to five, effective Monday. Museums, galleries and libraries must cut their capacity to 50 per cent and collect contact information for all visitors.

Shaw said city parks bookings for more than five people will be cancelled due to the new rules, while weddings and funerals on city property will be limited to a maximum of five people.

City recreation facilities and libraries are expected to be able to continue operating under the new capacity limits, Shaw said, while no changes are expected for Winnipeg Transit.

The city is suspending in-home, non-emergency inspections until further notice, effective Monday. That includes interior residential tax assessment visits, residential bylaw enforcement checks and non-urgent in-home property and development inspections.

Water meter readings and inspections are also suspended.

Joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

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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