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The city is asking Winnipeggers to stay off public transit unless a bus trip is absolutely necessary.

"Today, we are asking the public to change how they use public transit and restrict their transit rides to essential trips only," Mayor Brian Bowman said Friday.

"Along with the public-health orders… this is another way to support our community effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout our city," said Mayor Brian Bowman.

Over the six weeks leading up to Nov. 13, the province reported COVID-19 exposures on Winnipeg Transit buses 36 times, some of which affected more than one route and day. It’s not clear if transmission of the virus occurred due to those exposures.

The provincial government reported 247 new cases of COVID-19 in Winnipeg on Friday.

Transit ridership has plummeted to about 40 per cent of normal volumes for this time of year. Even so, people should use the service only to get to work or to buy groceries, said Jason Shaw, the city's assistant chief of emergency management.

"We know low ridership levels… help us maintain space on buses for appropriate social distancing," he said.

At this point, Shaw said the city has no plans to make a second pandemic-related cut to transit jobs or service levels.

Meanwhile, people waiting for the resumption of Winnipeg Leisure Guide programs will be disappointed. The city says all suspended fall programs are now officially cancelled, since the province expects Winnipeg to remain in code red until at least Dec. 11. Shaw said people who registered for programs will receive credit on their accounts.

The city is continuing to crack down on COVID-19 health orders, with bylaw officers ticketing two individuals who allegedly failed to wear masks in indoor public places Wednesday. Shaw declined to offer further details about the incident.

The city has also offered to help the province provide COVID-19 vaccines when they are expected to become available early next year.

Shaw said that could include the city offering spaces and/or staff to help immunize residents, though no details have been sorted out yet.

"In order to… (get) that program done, it’s going to take a lot of work. We know the province is on it. We want to be there to help if they need us," he said.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga



Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

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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