Over 100 people gather in Steinbach, Man. to protest level red COVID-19 restrictions imposed this week

Less than an hour after the Manitoba government announced a single-day record of COVID-19 deaths, dozens of people gathered in Steinbach, Man., to protest against the heightened public health restrictions implemented across the province this week.

Manitoba went into level red COVID-19 restrictions at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, ut more than 100 people gathered Saturday afternoon to protest against them. Some brought their kids along.

Only five people are allowed to gather, per the public health rules. However, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said this week that no one should be socializing with people they don’t live with.

Manitoba Justice officers are on scene, but CBC News has not witnessed them hand out any fines.

Fines for individuals who break public health rules are $1,296. Businesses that don’t abide by the public health rules are fined $5,000.

Protesters were seen not physically distancing or wearing medical-grade masks. Some protesters wore other masks, such as a Guy Fawkes mask from the film V for Vendetta, to protect their identity.

Manitoba RCMP have blocked vehicle access to the rally.

Some counter-protesters have arrived, but they are remaining in their vehicles.

The protest comes a day after a nurse, who works in the emergency room at Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach, said the facility is over capacity and the workload on staff isn’t sustainable.

The protest also takes place less than an hour after the Manitoba government announced 15 more people have died from COVID-19. The deaths occurred from Nov. 2-13, but it is the highest single-day increase of COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba on record.

Another 239 cases of COVID-19 were announced in Manitoba on Saturday: 163 in the Winnipeg health region, 40 in the Southern Health region, 16 in Northern Health, 11 in the Interlake-Eastern Health region and nine in Prairie Mountain Health.

The total number of known active cases currently sits at 6,410, but public health officials have said that number may be inaccurate because of a backlog of data entry.

The City of Steinbach is located 52 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.